A CEO’s job is the trickiest of all. He /she is constantly surrounded by a bunch of people who always make extra efforts to please him/her but they point out that usually, at the top, the CEO’s exposure or information related to the goings on especially among the middle and the junior level employees, is highly restricted. This causes isolation and under such a circumstance, even small gestures such as the CEO sharing a meal with his/her junior staff or playing a game of table tennis with the floor employees to facilitate an open communication can make all the difference
An important point to be taken care of here is that after the interaction with the employee, the concerned senior managers should be kept informed as this will bring further transparency. Caution needs to be exercised so that this doesn’t end up becoming a day-to-day source of interaction and must be structured so that it is meaningful and at the same time, does not isolate the line managers and department heads. This can be cited by an example when the MD of Kansai Nerolac is in a business tour to any of the depots/factories; he makes it a point to meet the front sales personnel/shop floor officers, personally hears them out on business related aspects, their interaction with the dealers and difficulties faced in getting results with respect to product selling, revenue generation etc. to the management committee and gives a personal feedback by the concerned HODs for redressal. Quite recently, during his visit to a sales office in the North, the sales officers expressed their discomfort regarding the policy of reimbursement of traveling expenses. The MD put across their viewpoint for deliberation to the senior managers after which the policy was revised. A couple of years ago, the company’s young managers expressed their opinion pertaining to a designation called deputy manager. They cited reasons why after being an assistant manager, they should not be given the title of a manager directly. This was discussed with HR and consequently the title of deputy manger was abolished when they felt that the issue was genuine.
The ways in which the CEOs of Wipro Technologies try to bridge the communication gap: (1) Wipro Meets: This bi-annual event witness the chairman, the joint CEOs and the senior leadership team get together to address issues of Wipro employees worldwide through a live webcast. The webcast can be accessed over links which are communicated to the employees through various online promotional campaigns (2) Channel Chat: It is the interactive intranet of Wipro worldwide. The chat is an online tool where employees need to log in to virtual chat room and send queries trough internal MSN chat. The intranet team organizes chats with the CEOs wherein there is a direct interaction with the employees and (3) CEO Blogs: It was started by one of joint CEOs, which ensures an informal flow of communication.
The best CEOs are adept at applying their analytical skills and their emotional skills at the right times. They aren’t purely people, but can make sense of complex market data and strategic plans. The important thing is that they are able to balance the two elements.
A CEO can’t be a dictator or someone who listens to everyone. He must strike a balance and make independent judgments. People put in the job to represent the collective will of the organization, not to respond to every fad and fashion of the moment.
Turnaround CEOs constantly communicate. A CEO on being asked about how he spends his time estimates that around 5% is spent on board and corporate governance matters; 25% to 30% on meeting with industry officials, politicians and other regulators; and 10% to 15% in some form of interaction with customers. Whatever the split, it is clear that communicating with people inside and outside the organization lies at the heart of the CEO’s job.