Lots is made about telling the truth. As a parent of four children I vividly remember several occassions using the parent-ism “We are not leaving this room until someone tells me who . . . . . . “. It is amazing what can happen and nobody remembers how or why. Maybe a pick your battles posting should be in the queue somewhere. 🙂
People want leaders to tell them the truth. In this economic downturn I have been impressed by the many stories from clients and friends on the transparency moments that leaders have had with their people.
The lesson we teach our children is the energy it takes and the damage it does to others when we keep a lie (or half truth) going. As adults, this lesson does not leave us. But there are times when we have to be evasive or withhold the truth. Here are a couple examples:
- Sale of a business / Negotiation of a purchase: When a legal non-disclosure is in place we have to keep things secret.
- Letting someone go because of bad behavior/poor performance – Call it professional courtesy, but we don’t always air dirty laundry and allow people to leave for better opportunities or personal reasons.
Dave Ramsey preaches an emergency fund in case we have an unforseen event and we do not want to overdraft our account. Think of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth as a deposit into a Trust Savings Account. Here is the complexity, every person on our team has separate account, and will add to it and withdraw at different rates.
Here are 5 habits that help maximize money going into the truth emergency fund, and minimize overdrafts:
- Know the needs of your people around truth. Some want straight talk, others want more one one on discussions, and still others want to know early. The Birkman Method does a great job revealing these individual needs.
- If you are often out of the office – set aside time (Fri pm, Mon am) when people know you will be around to answer questions. Make a habit to ask people What are you hearing?.
- Allow all your direct reports to see your schedule and add meetings if needed.
- Coach your leadership team to tell the same story you are telling and adopt the same habits.
- NEVER – roll out a big change to the organization without first telling your leaders and equipping them to tell the truth when asked all of the What? Why? How? What about? questions. Always have them follow-up with one on one conversations within 24 hours, especially when jobs are affected.
I know everyone has a story around this topic. Anything to add to the list?