How Honest Are You With Your Staff?

Transparency helps employees feel more like they are part of a team. That’s why I have always tried to keep my staff in the loop on activities in our organization.   It shouldn’t be surprising that a Harris Poll found that more than 70% of employees were more engaged when their company shared organizational goals, objectives, and activities. 

So, while you might have an external communications strategy for your organization, you might also want to create another one for your team and other stakeholders. Among other things, I found open communications eliminated rumors and false narratives. 

For me, it starts with strategic planning. While such efforts are sometimes done exclusively by boards and key executives, I believe that organizations benefit from the participation of operational staff. They know what is going on and have a clear perspective of an organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses. Staff participation is especially important during the establishment of action steps. It sends a clear message to your staff when they – or a representative number – get to participate in this critical planning effort. 

Some people think that monthly all-staff meetings can be seen as a waste of time. And if they are just a venue for pronouncements from the boss, I guess they could be. At my meetings, I might have some announcements and updates, but then I would ask everyone if they would like to mention something they were working on, proud of, or had any questions. Occasionally the questions were uncomfortable or even unfair. But, I felt that if someone had a question, they had a right to ask it rather than be fodder for hallway conversations. The only subjects that were off-limits were individual personnel, confidential, or legal matters. 

In addition, every Monday morning, all staff members would receive an email update from me. Because I was in a position to know what was going on throughout our organization, I used the emails to provide updates. I also shared industry news and progress we were making towards our various goals. Sometimes people responded with questions that I tried to respond to in my next update. 

Your internal communication strategy should be more than feel-good public relations. Share bad or troubling news too. People will want to know and deserve the truth. 

Another essential part of your effort to be open with your staff is an honest discussion about their performance and where they stand in the organization. That’s why regular performance evaluations should be part of your plan. As part of performance evaluations, some groups conduct 360 reviews to provide confidential feedback on managers and peers. Maybe it is time for an anonymous survey of employees regarding the way the organization is operating. Releasing the survey findings is essential to demonstrate transparency and can be used as the beginning of a discussion of how issues might be addressed. Laura Grieco, HR and administration director at ParkMobile, told Business News Daily, “Feedback and the ability to understand employee concerns is important, but it’s what you do after that’s critical to retention. You should always be transparent by sharing what you’ve learned and a course of action for addressing the issue. For example, after a recent company wide engagement survey, we chose to share our results with all employees. We communicated our top areas of success and our areas for improvement and how we planned to address them moving forward. Transparent communication and a simple acknowledgment that we heard you can go a long way.” 

An investment of time by management in two-way communications and dealing with their employees’ concerns will maintain a higher level of trust and job satisfaction. 

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