Senior leaders have many demands on their time: their teams, peers, and board.
For example, I worked with the CEO of a technology company to help him understand the feedback from his 360 assessment--a process that helps the individual to understand confidential feedback on topics such as strengths, areas of development, and other insights. From the feedback, he found that his team wanted more of his time to learn from him. We used this three-step process to prioritize and communicate with his team.
1. Understand your team's individual communication style.
The first and most important step is to assess the specific communication styles of your team. I recommend using an assessment to determine communication styles. An example of this type of assessment is DISC (which helps to measure such areas as behavior and communication styles). The results will help you to understand your own communication style and, more importantly, pinpoint your team members' styles.
This data will give you clarity on how to motivate each individual. For example, if your communication style demonstrates you are very goal oriented and one of your team member's scores is more focused on people, then it will be important to flex your style--don't just focus on goals and revenue in a meeting, ask him or her about their weekend. By flexing in this manner, your team member will feel more recognized, which can ultimately translate to a more motivated and productive employee.
2. Have a schedule.
Armed with your communication style assessment, now it's time to create a detailed plan to schedule and prioritize your time. For instance, you can plot time on a calendar so that you have a scheduled approach for when you will focus on each individual.
You might want to prioritize meetings with folks who have immediate deliverables and deadlines. Next, you might prioritize individuals on a track for promotion or in need of extra help with leadership development. With a systematic approach to calendaring meetings and managing communication preferences, you will have a cadence for how and when to communicate.
3. At times, over-communicate.
This final area is where many of my clients complain and feel frustrated. Many report to me that they repeatedly communicate their feedback to employees, so they become extremely disappointed when their advice seems to go unrecognized.
Part of the framework is to create a schedule of over-communication. My recommendation is that once you believe that you have communicated enough...you haven't. Communicate at least one more time to make sure all is understood, so that the most important errors and issues don't continually pop up. Another method is to make sure that you ask this question: "Why don't you repeat back to me how this issue will be resolved?"
Use this process to help you more effectively and efficiently keep a motivated team in place when you have such limited time as a leader of the company.