Operating as a Wartime CEO: How My Communication Strategy Has Changed

In some ways, times of uncertainty can actually bring clarity to the role of a CEO. For me, that means narrowing down my priorities to two things and two things only:

  1. Protecting our families, customer, employees, and investors
  2. Ensuring Drift is well-positioned to dominate our markets once the crisis ends

There is no number 3.

Because coming out of this in a better place than where we started requires some luck and an incredible amount of focus. It requires the mindset of a wartime CEO.

And it requires communicating like a wartime CEO too.

We now have almost 400 employees working from home and aren’t certain about when we will all be back together. So, I’ve had to shift how to communicate with the team – more often and more directly – without requiring 400 people to get on a live video call every day.

And the modes and mediums that I use to communicate have had to shift too. For instance, I’ve moved a lot of my communication to pre-recorded videos. Doing so makes it easy for people to consume the information on their own schedules and even play the videos at 1.5X speed. Pre-recording information also means we have the ability to share it with future Drifters.

Here are a few more ways I’m changing how I communicate ??

Sharing My Thoughts and Decisions With Everyone at All Levels

While we always default to transparency at Drift, that’s become even more important over the last few weeks.

I sum up what I’m thinking and prioritizing right now in Drift Videos sent to the entire team.

I don’t send these to our executive leadership or senior leadership teams first. Every single employee at Drift gets the message directly to avoid losing important information in a chain of “cascading communication.”

Here’s a 1-minute clip from a 25-minute Video I sent to the whole team in mid-March.

Rolling Out New Programs Without Calling More Meetings

When launching a new program or process internally, the default is to call meetings. Leadership meetings, manager meetings, all-hands meetings. In normal times, these meetings are expensive and should be avoided. In extraordinary times like these, every minute counts.

So instead of calling more meetings, I’ve found that sending the team a 5-minute video can save several hours for everyone.

And saving time is key because everyone’s schedules have been disrupted. Kids are running around, hours are shifting, and we want to be respectful of each employee’s constraints. Just as we need to communicate on the customer’s terms, CEOs need to communicate on the employee’s terms.

Here’s a clip from a 3-minute video used to roll out an entirely new review process ??

Of course one of the challenges to this approach is knowing whether or not people actually watched your video. Which is why sending these updates via Drift Video is key. It allows me to share videos privately, see who actually watched the video, and for how long. This tells me when more follow-up is needed.

Turning 30-Minute Updates Into 5-Minute Videos

I said above that there’s a tendency to call more meetings. But let me put it bluntly. I hate meetings.

So, I’ve challenged my team to consider: could this meeting be a video?

Anytime I get invited to an “update” meeting, I will ask if it’s possible to review a video and respond on my own time instead of attending the meeting.

Sure, there are times when having a live video call is best, but honestly, it’s becoming less important for us as we move to a more accessible asynchronous form of communication. And, for times when we do use Zoom, we can actually get the best of both worlds – live and recorded – with the Drift Video + Zoom integration.

Replacing an update meeting with a short video allows everyone to digest the content on their own time so we can save meeting time for truly important discussions.

We’re all in uncharted waters right now. I’m learning from others as I go and experimenting with different approaches. What communication strategies are working for your business?

Ready to try Drift Video for yourself? Sign up for a FREE account and start recording your next video here.