Friday, August 13, 2010

Promote a culture of transparency

There are two sides to every story. 

How many times do you hear that leadership and managers just don’t understand? That they have made decisions without thinking things through and without the right information. Yes, okay, of course that is sometimes true, but many times that isn’t really the full story.  To some degree, I think it’s a natural response though – it speaks to the questioning mind and the age old mantra of ‘I know I’d do better if I were in that position. I’d do it differently’.

One way of mitigating this type of reaction is to explain the journey, explain the thinking.  What factors played into the decision?  Who participated & Why?  Even explaining the obvious points about ‘not being able to include everyone’, needing to ‘take a stand and make progress’, ‘but the course can be corrected if necessary’ can help. These are all obvious and necessary points about managing any project (from re-decorating a house, to rolling out a new organizational structure).  The good thing about this is that the majority of people have been in the position of having to make tough decisions and face opposition and questions from family or colleagues themselves.  Remember this the next time you have to roll out a communication.

Instead of explaining the What, try explaining the Why and the How.  People may still not like the path you took, they may not agree with the outcome, but they are much more likely to understand where you are coming from, even empathize with you. I know it’s not always possible to tell everything, but see how open you can be.

Be open and clear about looking for feedback and input too.  You want to encourage questions, you want to hear the concerns.  If you can listen to these calmly and respond appropriately, you will slowly begin to build trust. 

And don’t simply forget the feedback you hear, do something about it.  One tip is to keep the most interesting opinions in your back-pocket and address them again the next time you speak with the person 1:1 – it shows you have taken it seriously.   The more you do it, people will be encouraged to open up to you.

And let’s face it, there is much that we can all learn, so open up and encourage the feedback

Try it and tell me!

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