In any successful company, the interminable reach of its CEO is usually to be honoured from a distance. While senior executives and managers are privy to interact directly with these elites, it is an unsaid law that the average employee’s interaction has to be through a senior manager. However, that doesn’t indicate that their work is going unnoticed. CEOs of leading companies may have their itineraries to the brim and lack the time to evaluate each employees' performance, but they do keep a tab on the work that is being put out collectively.
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While CEOs are tasked with the challenge of executing good leadership within the company, in the throes of the infinite meetings, deadlines, press conferences and launch-tours. They are expected to lead from the front- just like generals of medieval war era and represent each and every employee of the company, no matter what the designation they hold. So in moments of crisis, especially when the company meets with an unfavourable or negative outcome, it is the CEO's responsibility to pick up the pieces and re-build the workforces' collective morale.
While each has their own way of addressing the issue, some of the world’s most popular figures reached out to their employees through the most basic medium- email. Through these, these CEOs in question managed to rouse a sense of camaraderie, hope and renewed motivation.
After US President Donald Trump announced the ‘immigration ban’, naturalised employees belonging to those seven countries were left in a state of panic. The declaration created ripples in many MNC, including Apple, where a significant chunk of its task-force are individuals from the banned countries. However, CEO Tim Cook refused to be cowed down by Trump’s declaration.
In an email to his employees, he said: “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do… Apple is open. Open to everyone, no matter where they come from, which language they speak, who they love or how they worship. Our employees represent the finest talent in the world, and our team hails from every corner of the globe.”
Cook set an example by standing up for the minority- both within and outside the company, and assured the former that the only thing Apple judged its workers on the basis of- was their hard work.
Howard Schlutz, Starbucks
In August of 2015, China witnessed an economic slowdown that consequently wiped out about $1 trillion from the Asian markets and sent the Dow plunging 588 points in a single day. Naturally, this was a situation that impacted the global market and customers, and businesses began to panic. Howard Schlutz, the then CEO of Starbucks realized that he needed to alleviate the sense of fear and anxiety among all employees and his customers, by reaching out to them personally.
In an email to his employees, he said: “Our company has weathered many different types of storms. But our brand has never been stronger or more relevant… Our customers are likely to experience an increased level of anxiety and concern. Please recognize this and --as you always have-- remember that our success is not an entitlement, but something we need to earn, every day. Let's be very sensitive to the pressures our customers may be feeling, and do everything we can to individually and collectively exceed their expectations.”
His sense of calm and level-headedness in this moment of crisis did wonders to boosting the overall employee morale in the company, who worked with a rigorous zeal to keep the business flowing as smoothly as possible.
Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo
The election for the 45th US President and Donald Trump’s subsequent victory, led to a sense of panic among non-American citizens. Fear of job loss and possible evacuation was rife among many immigrant community, following the statements from the Trump administration. CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi realized that an America under Donald Trump may pose a series of problems for her employees from minority races.
To placate and reassure them that any change introduced by the Trump administration which would negatively impact them, would not be considered lightly by the company- which revelled in its diverse work-space culture.
In an email to her employees, she said: “We serve more countries and territories than the United Nations, and our associates encompass virtually all of the world’s nationalities, cultures, faith and traditions. That diversity is a source of strength, an engine of creativity, dynamism, and prosperity. And it reflects the simple recognition that no matter what our differences, each of us is committed to doing our part for one another and this company that fills us with pride.”
Not too long ago, Microsoft had launched its newest venture- a Twitter bot called ‘Tay’, in order to advance AI-based communication. However, what followed was a PR nightmare, as the bot got hacked and used to declare some racist and abusive comments. This forced the company to shut it down and apologize for the same. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, realized that he needed to do damage control but before that he needed to give his team a pep-talk, to raise their spirits and get them back on the road.
In an extremely supportive email to his employees, he said: : "Keep pushing, and know that I am with you… The key is to keep learning and improving."
What other kind of encouragement and reassurance does an employee need, other than that mistakes happen and the road to success comes with trial and error.
The support and belief of a CEO is instrumental to the collective mind-space of a company. Hence, when it's set to positive, it won't leave any stone unturned to come out on top. And sometimes, all it takes for them to get there, is a simple email.