Share information, be proactive, focus on messaging and who knows the plan
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.”
— Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
There’s nothing worse, than the feeling that leaders don’t care about keeping you in the loop, or even worse, that they’re keeping secrets. Transparency does not have to be “Radical” to be effective, there is a balance. Does your culture have a lot of hierarchy or levels? Does this limit or slow down information? Is you culture overly autocratic or command and control? Is one person making decisions? Do they get upset if others implement ideas? All of these factors will create resistance for information to flow and create a less transparent culture.
Make sure your vision, intentions, and methods are clear to everyone on your team and that they have access to the information they need to do their best work.
The essence to good change management is that people do not feel surprised, that they could see what was going to happen. Even better if they were a part of the problem finding, problem solving, decision-making and implementation process.
Gossip & Grapevine
Wherever you leave gaps of information, gossip will arise, people will start to make assumptions. You will hear a lot of information and personal opinions. Gossip a natural thing amongst humans. You will have to be good or become good at filtering the chaff from the wheat. Whilst gossip may give you speed of information you will not get from a more formal route, but be careful of trusting it. As a leader you should kill gossip with facts. Where you can get ahead of gossip by proactive with intentional sharing.
If you delay information and people find out from another source, you will lose trust. Or worse they might think you are not in the loop. How much do you share that is true as opposed to gossip? If trust is damaged, your team may stop talking to you, and start gossiping with others.
Teams, departments where the leader is judgmental or disconnected, information will not flow fast and some will never travel at all. People will hide or delay information if they are scared of what “the boss” thinks. This will likely also create a strong gossip vine, of incorrect or misinterpreted information.
Employees want to be kept in the loop. If an organisation fails to provide information, employees will go about searching for it in their own way e.g. gossip. To keep employees engaged, organisations need to be transparent. This will minimize distractions, establish trust in leadership, and allow employees to maintain focus on their work rather than going around trying to discover who’s doing what and why.
Copy the Behaviors of the Best
By being radically transparent about performance, companies make sure they are rewarding the competent, not the confident. This helps newer employees see what the most successful employees do, allowing them to easily model the behaviors of the best. As a result, the whole workforce progresses faster, creating a culture of continuous improvement and engagement.
“Don’t move information to authority, move authority to the information.”
— L. David Marquet, Turn the Ship Around!
Transparent organizations get information to people, often this will lead to much easier change management, less surprises, also people giving solutions to problems they see. There is often much stronger trust between organizations and its people when they are more transparent.
Thoughts on Transparency
- Information audit on who you share information with and why
- There should be no surprises, if there has to be, be mindful how you share the information
- Bring people in early to help problem-solve
- Messaging can lead to over selling and a disconnect from reality
- How much information do you pass on?
- What information do you hoard?
- How surprised are your people about changes? Ask them on a regular timeframe, did anything surprise you?
- Change is always emotional difficult, how do you make it easier?
- Cognitive Biases can get in the way
Resources for Transparency:
- Blog -> Yes, You Can Make Office Politics Less Toxic
- Book -> Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders
- Blog -> Radical Transparency Can Reduce Bias — but Only If It’s Done Right
- Book -> Principles: Life and Work