Leaders Win with Transparency in the Future of Work

Bravely share the truth with your team and they will respect you for it

The future of work series is based on the insights from my quantitative and qualitative research with ideas to think about your organization and a toolkit to take action on as a leader.  This theme focuses on the need for transparency in the future of work.

Feedback has always been a gift

I remember one of my first experiences with feedback in Corporate America.  My manager framed it as, “feedback is a gift.”  Well, it did not feel like a gift.  He only called attention to my shortcomings and gave no direction on what he wanted me to do with the information.

Feedback is a gift, yet it needs to be delivered as such.  Now, more than ever, people are desperate for honesty.  They want to know how they are doing and what this pandemic means for their careers.  Give them a window into your world.  

“Clear is kind.  Unclear is unkind.” – Brene Brown

You got it, Brene.  As a leader, it is your responsibility to give and receive feedback.  It is a two-way street.  The most clear delivery method for feedback I have found is the Situation-Behavior-Impact model.  It packages feedback in a non-threatening way, letting the receiver know what to do with the information.  It works like this:

  • Situation:  a specific event with information on the who, what, where, when, and why 
  • Behavior(s):  actions taken or words expressed in the situation (“I heard you say this” or “I saw you do this”)
  • Impact:  the impact to the client, project, business, or team 

This works for positive or constructive feedback.  It helps people understand why their behavior is helpful or not and how to change it to get a better result.  In absence of feedback people will assume the worst – that they are not doing their jobs well or they are next to lose their jobs.  Let your team know how they are doing.  They will respect you for it.

Regular check ins spur real-time candid conversations

“Our organization has been doing frequent pulse surveys.  The surveys are short and simple, yet ask powerful questions like ‘what could we be doing better right now?’  People have responded very positively to it,” said  Director of Sales Coaching & Development and Relationship Management Expert Natalie Siston.

Be open to feedback as leaders.  Ask candid open questions to field areas for improvement.  People are already thinking about the issues they will share.  Asking does not change that.  Asking gives voice to their concerns.  You do not have to have all the answers either as a leader.  People respect the answer, “I do not know.  I will find out.”

Everyone likes to be checked in with a bit differently.  Ask your team how they prefer one-on-one check ins – what mode of communication, frequency, and topics to discuss.  Let them decide and own the check in.  They will reward you with a window into their world you may have missed before.

Tell ‘em how it is

Diversity Business Partner at Google,  Cornell Verdeja-Woodson, shared his organization has been hosting weekly “ask anything” open forums to field tough conversations.  Everything from mental health challenges to responses to changes have been discussed.  Senior leadership is involved and open with the state of the business and what is happening next.

This is pivotal.  Without information, employees are left to wonder ‘what is next?’  Often, we envision the worst case scenario when missing information.  Fill in the blanks for your team.  They will reward you with loyalty.

As a leader, it is paramount that you tell your team what you can share, and what you cannot share.  Framing the open forum with “here is what I know and here is what I do not know or cannot share yet.”  People respect that transparency.  Hiding information to protect employees is untrustworthy.  People are not children, they do not need to be protected at work.  They can handle it.  Trust them with transparency.

Toolkit to take action

Let this be an opportunity to pivot forward as a leader.  Get your team together virtually or live and be curious to learn from them.  Discuss how we use this as an opportunity to increase transparency by asking:

  • FEEDBACK:  What can we do better now?
  • CHECK INS:  How do you want me to check in with you (phone, email, text, video call)?
  • TELL ‘EM:  What can you share?  What can you not share?

The future of work will not be the same.  There is no return to normal.  The future of work is transparent.

This great pause is an opportunity to lead your team to success.  How are you going to take advantage of this opportunity?

If you liked this article, good news.  I created a future of work blog series and video series on the future of work.  You can find time to connect with me  1:1 to discuss ideas here.

We need our allies more than ever.  We will get through this together.  Because we are stronger together.

Message me with your thoughts at Julie@NextPivotPoint.com.  I personally respond to every email I receive.