Last week, I attended an event where the speaker discussed the trials and successes of his business over the past several years.
He pointed out that the company focused on creating an aligned culture where leaders listened to their team members and shared openly about how they approached Pandemic related issues. They held the belief that by engaging team members, avoiding uncertainty and listening to them, staff members would feel that their roles were respected and appreciated by the business leaders. At a practical level, the mission and vision for the company were constantly reinforced not just in words but also in deeds. They’ve been successful, as evidenced by their consistent rating as a “best place to work” by their associates.
One of the most common concerns I hear from employees and leaders is how difficult it is to operate in an information vacuum. Uncertainty creates panic and while leaders may not always have the answers to questions being asked, providing whatever information is available help clear the air. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that there is significant concern over at Twitter now that Elon Musk is buying the company. Right now, it is a muddy picture.
The speaker referred to clarity of information as a gift of kindness in the workplace. It’s a good gift to share and here are some ideas on how to do it.
- Share information broadly. Whether you hold town halls, “Ask me Anything” meetings, or regular team gatherings, have prepared reports updating the team. If leaders are unsure when changes will be finalized, let people know and provide estimated time frames for decision making.
- Promote candid conversations. Encourage employees to ask questions that will help them be more informed. Employees will tell you what kinds of information they need, whether they ask about plans, job security, or frustrations about limited resources. I call that “free information.” If leaders listen carefully to the questions, team members will tell what they need.
- Discretion. There are some kinds of information that can’t or won’t be shared, and leaders will want to be comfortable identifying and protecting confidential or personal information.
- Respond promptly: People probably hate not hearing anything more than hearing bad news and ghosting is never a good strategy for communicating. Providing information in a timely manner or letting people know the timeframe for information sharing goes a long way in building trust.
- Listen to ideas. The people in your organization are smart, can absorb and understand business concerns and needs and will have good ideas to contribute. Engaging them as business partners diversifies thinking and helps share the burden
Clarity of information is a gift that keeps giving. It grows trust exponentially and strengthens the internal core of resilience for everyone involved.
It’s also part of the new, kinder workplace.
© Richard Citrin 2022