Zoom chief people officer is a champion of employee communication

Communication is highly prized across organizations, especially in businesses with large workforces distributed around the globe. Because employees, managers and leaders are so busy, much has been devoted to finding ways past the tedious but necessary tasks to dedicate more time and effort to better bonding and communication between employees.

- Advertisement -

Matthew Saxon, chief people officer for Zoom, and his team are among those actively seeking ways to boost communication. Speaking recently to HRM Asia, Saxon shared the importance of connecting, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It boils down to care, connection to your team and your work, and personal connection, or what are the things personal to you as an individual that you want to connect with people in work and life,” Saxon said.

Zoom’s care plan aims to reduce pain points and bottlenecks that employees regularly face to stay ahead and help them improve at work, especially with the rise of hybrid work arrangements.

Matthew Saxon, Zoom chief people officer
Matthew Saxon, Zoom chief people officer

One solution that Zoom has developed is Zoom AI Companion, which helps employees draft emails and chat messages and summarize work meetings and chat threads. The summarization features can boost employee concentration and engagement during meetings by reducing the need to take notes or later transcribe minutes. This helps employees catch up on meetings they may have missed, including the resulting action items, which saves time and improves goal alignment and understanding between employees, Saxon said.

This feedback and two-way communication is something Saxon and his team prize highly. It also aligns with Zoom’s culture of care with customers, company, communities, teammates and employees. To connect these, any action or connection must be deliberate, something Saxon says is more common with more employees working in hybrid or fully remote work situations.

Acknowledging the importance of frontline employees who work with technologies and clients, Saxon highlighted how they are often the ones identifying and flagging issues that they face in their day-to-day work. Thus, the more managers listen and understand their perspectives while also engaging with them on how to redesign solutions, the more likely organizations are to end up with better and clearer processes and practices.

- Advertisement -

“I think a lot of the times we see change initiatives that are top-down driven fail because they haven’t engaged their frontline employees to really understand the problem and what the solution should be,” Saxon cautioned.

“So, you have then designed something that doesn’t resolve the pain points that employees are facing. I would say that feedback is not a ‘nice to have’, it’s an actual business imperative. Companies who can figure out how to take in feedback and implement it at scale and on a cultural standpoint will have a competitive advantage over time.”

The right conversations are critical to employee communications

Saxon believes that creating a culture of openness starts with having the right conversations and cultivating a safe space for those conversations to take place. At Zoom, this means sit-down meetings between employees and managers take place every quarter to discuss four points:

  • how they delivered against their goals for the quarter;
  • what they could improve on;
  • goals and priorities for the next quarter; and
  • how they can develop in their role and the role they wish to take on.

“The role of HR is to create that engagement and interaction every quarter and have simple but meaningful questions to prompt a healthy dialogue, which should go both ways,” Saxon said. “HR needs to make sure the managers are trained in being receptive to feedback, and employees, in turn, should have feedback for them.”

The goal, he explained, is for employees and managers to create a habit of receiving and expecting feedback in a way that does not feel punitive and tied to conditions. “Feedback loops can be associated with annual performance reviews, leading to compensation implications and other opportunities,” he says, “which I don’t think always elicits the best response out of people.”

Saxon underscored two keys: purpose and care.

“Part of the issue is that we tend to move so quickly now, with decisions made so rapidly, that we don’t always give ourselves the grace and the time to make sure we’re listening and understanding different perspectives and how to take that on board,” he said.

The issue is compounded by many organizations operating in different types of hybrid working arrangements. “We may not always get it right on the first go, but you have to be very thoughtful about what it is you want to do and how to do it. What is your operating model? How do you want to communicate the way things get pushed out?”

Saxon pointed out that by eliminating tedious tasks, more energy can be concentrated on effective communication and synergy, maximizing the best of what people have to offer.

Champa Ha wrote this story for HRM Asia, and you can find more from this author at HRMAsia.com.

HRM Asia
HRM Asia is a multi-platform media and events company helping to build, connect and celebrate the professional HR community in Asia-Pacific. Across our dedicated digital quarterly magazine issues, digital content, custom webinars/roundtables and world-class events, we provide an array of thought-leading HR discussion and information to HR leaders and business professionals throughout the region.