Openness and Transparency- How honest can we be at work?

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“We struggle mostly with ourselves as we debate whether or not to speak up in meetings,
confront a co-worker who we have issues with,or approach a supervisor about unreasonable
expectations or to clarify instructions,” said author Steven Gaffney.“That conflict between
what we want to say, and what we actually feel we can say, causes great stress. The solution, Gaffney added, “is to do what most people are reluctant to do: Be honest. Honesty  really does work.”

Working with a room of senior executives I hear so very often that they are scared to speak up. I am amazed that organisations still do not want to hear the truth about their managers or from their managers. As an executive coach working nearer the coal face than most managers ever get, I see  and sense them walking on a knife’s edge. Their stories of continually being told they are not measuring up, the blame game racing down from the tiers above them and responsibility being owned by few!

There are endless articles and training courses which aim to advise and instruct on the way you communicate with employees. Is there another method of highlighting honesty in the organisation when leaders withhold information. Keeping company information from employees leaves them feeling uninformed and takes away from encouraging honesty in the workplace. While some information needs to be confidential, make it a habit of keeping your staff informed on basic company operations. Most employees appreciate transparency from the company even if the information they receive is negative. For example, employees typically want to know if the company is performing poorly rather than being kept in the dark. The honest communication encourages employees to exhibit the same level of honesty.

How much more can we take of being held down and gagged by fear?   

By creating a company culture that values honesty over perfectionism, you highlight the importance of honesty. If the workplace is set up to punish employees for taking risks or making mistakes, you are more likely to have staff members who hide the truth or don’t take ownership for their errors.If leaders and managers can be authentic and model real truth,honesty and openness then they will also be exhibiting their own accountability.

Do you as a leader create a safe environment that places trust in your employees to handle their duties?  How would you know if your team feel safe and secure in your leadership?

Can you accept constructive feedback or can you provide feedback without making employees feel ostracized if they make a mistake?

As  a person on the ground, delivering the real services of the company do you believe in your leaders?    How would you deal with telling your line manager that they seem non-aligned to the ethos of the company?