How often is the quality of open and honest expression lost in your workplace? How many times have you wanted to have the hard conversation but shied away? Or, when you did have the conversation the other person retreated into a helpless victim role and avoided responsibility. The result being deeper trenches and longer battles.
With political correctness, codes of conduct, legislations and laws we may have developed a cotton wool culture or culture of uncertainty and powerlessness. Although we need external boundaries for order, people have gone the other way avoiding the issues in fear of reprimand, reprisal, rejection and retribution.
Lack of candor feeds corporate cancer by infecting it with cynicism, contention, competition, conflict, contention, comparison and childish tantrums. The result being a paralysis of truth and expression. Without expression we lose power, creativity and innovation. Our work places lose community to problem solve and move beyond mediocrity. The result, poor performance.
Imagine your workplace communication being open, frank, honest, truthful, free from bias, fair, impartial, accountable and upfront.
- What would change?
- How would workplace relations differ?
- What might improve?
- What would happen to morale and job satisfaction?
- How would it affect the bottom line?
What can you do? Candor starts with you. Work from the inside out.
Try these ideas, share these ideas, pass it on, use it as a 10 minute discussion topic for your next meeting. The following taken from A Culture of Candor, O'Toole and Bennis, Harvard Business Review 2009.
The truth. We all have an impulse to tell people what they want to hear. Wise leaders tell everyone the same unvarnished story. Once you develop a reputation of straight talk people will return the favour.
Encourage people to speak truth to power. It's extraordinarily difficult to people lower in the hierarchy to tell the higher ups the unpalatable truths, but that’s what higher ups need to know, because often their employees have access to information about problems that they don’t. Create the conditions for people to be courageous.
Reward contrarians. The company won't innovate successfully if you don't learn to recognise, and then challenge your own assumptions. Find colleagues who can help you do that. Promote the best of them and thank all of them.
Practise having unpleasant conversations. The best leaders learn how to deliver bad news kindly, so people don't get unnecessarily hurt. That’s not easy, find a safe place to practice.
Diversify your sources of information. Everyone's biased. Make sure you communicate regularly with different groups of employees, customers, and competitors, so that your own understanding is nuanced and multifaceted.
Admit your mistakes. This gives everyone around you the permission to do the same.
Build organisational support for transparency. Start with protection for whistleblowers, but don't stop there. Hire people because they created a culture of candor elsewhere, not because they can out-compete their peers.
Set information free. Most organisations default keeping information confidential what might be strategically private. Default to sharing information unless there is a clear reason not to.
Candor is something that we can all do better. PFA can help you achieve better outcomes through facilitation, coaching and team development. We offer a range of services and programs to address team communication, performance, team and individual effectiveness. What you focus on is what you get. Avoiding the issue maintains the issue. Being free of workplace cancer starts with you, protect yourself and prevent the spread of it.
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