Can your employees be completely honest with you?
Most business owners assume the answer is a resounding yes. But are you sure?
Unless you’ve actively cultivated an environment of full transparency and candor around your office, the real answer is likely to be something different.
A closed-dialogue work environment can have serious ramifications.
Encouraging Candor Scenarios
Scenario 1: A junior associate makes an honest mistake. It’s not the end of the world, but she had a middling performance review this year, and she fears for her job. Rather than ‘fess up and seek guidance, she covers it up, figuring she can fix it on her own. She can’t. The error snowballs until it’s beyond her control.
Scenario 2: One of your long-standing employees is struggling. He was a decent fit for the role when he was first hired, but the company has grown and the role has changed. He’s in way over his head. Things are starting to slip, but he’s afraid to admit it—especially since you two have such a long history, and he doesn’t want to disappoint you.
These scenarios—and more like them—are more common than you think.
One of the best ways you can circumvent issues like this is to be transparent yourself. Share your own struggles. Celebrate mistakes as learning opportunities. Make it clear that fallibility is expected and honesty will be rewarded. And, especially in the case of the second scenario above, it’s critical that you check in with employees to find out what challenges they’re facing. If someone’s truly not right for a role, being reassigned or encouraged to seek other opportunities may well come as a huge relief rather than a devastating blow.
A candid environment starts with you. Show ‘em what you’ve got.
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