Transparency is a popular buzzword within industry which says everything and nothing all at once. As employees, we ask for transparency, we crave honesty and openness; as leaders we want to be thought of as transparent, modern and forward-thinking. But how is this achieved in reality?
Share failures instead of just successes. Employees will prefer having a clearer idea of the state of the business, whether that is good or bad. Indeed, rather than delivering a state of the business speech, invite questions from employees. This is a great exercise for learning about their concerns or ideas. The human imagination and the power and reach of office gossip works means that any troubling time will be worse if not addressed immediately.
You’ll often find that employees are more than willing to collaborate on finding resolutions to problems the business may face. Equally, share successes, reward good deeds, amplify successes and encourage employees to do the same between them. Read more about Employee Engagement.
Encourage Healthy Debate
Sometimes it is only from a good old fashioned heated discussion that we learn more about people’s way of thinking, about their ideas and their arguments. We could be persuaded to change our minds for the better by listening to others. Even if they go against general consensus. Round table discussions that have a clear objective (and time limit!) can be particularly useful tools for discovering outside-the-box ideas.
Be Clear About Expectations
Knowing their role and expected contribution empowers staff. When they know what they can do in order to meet targets, they are more likely to achieve them. If you want to endorse free thinking, then be seen to actively support new workplace practice - instead of using tried and tested methods. If you want a certain procedures to be followed, make that clear. Find other areas for employees’ creative outlet.
Adopt A Genuine Open Door Policy
Nothing frightens employees more than clandestine meetings or hushed whispers. Or people being dragged into closed door meetings when there is no need for privacy. Communication is important and it is powerful. Transparency extends to the way you talk to your employees. If there is bad news to share, don’t share it on an individual basis (unless there is an absolute need); make announcements to the team, invite questions. Fostering an approachable management style can help prevent trivial grievances or problems from escalating.
Deliver Meaningful Feedback
Annual and even monthly reviews are fast becoming outdated, and really quite obsolete. By the time an employee has prepared a review for the previous period, they are invariably well into the next round of projects. By adopting the open door policy mentioned earlier, and being approachable, they will update you in real-time what has been happening, what they plan to do.
This is the time to give your feedback - before it is too late. The term ‘feedback’ can have negative connotations - it has always been associated with critiques after the fact. If you’re aware of what staff members are doing as they are doing it, this will become less of a problem. Of course there will be times when you are required to deliver constructive criticism. Don’t sugarcoat it.
In his book “Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your Employees to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More” Mark Murphy uses a technique called IDEALS:
- Invite them to partner. “Would you be willing to have a conversation with me about XYZ? Does right now work, or would you rather wait until after lunch?”
- Disarm yourself. “I’d like to review the situation to make sure I’m on the same page as you.”
- Eliminate blame. “I see we have very different opinions on this. That’s fine. But let’s work together to find a resolution.”
- Affirm their control. “Does that sound okay?”
- List corrective feedback. “The behavior I am seeing is XYZ, and what I need to see is ABC.”
- Synchronize your understanding. “Tell me how you think we can work together to build on this and make things more effective next time.”
As a global company looking to implement or improve an employee incentives scheme, you may be interested to learn more about Ovation.