Tactic #3: Transparency & honesty
Unfortunately, we can’t control the honesty of others. Our current government proves that. But we can be honest and transparent ourselves, and encourage it in those around us.
When I was quite little, I was playing with some of the other kids in the neighborhood. And this boy came over and started chasing some of us around. I didn’t really know him, or want to play with him, and I didn’t like being chased. So after running for a moment, I just stopped.
The funny thing? Once I stopped running, he had no idea what to do. He literally veered around me to go run after someone else.
It was a huge moment for me. I realized I didn’t have to play by his rules.
Often people will claim that they’re not personally responsible for being misleading or hiding the truth of what’s really going on. In other words, “it’s just the culture”, “everyone else is doing it”, “I can’t succeed if I don’t play along”. “I didn’t make the rules.”
You may work somewhere where honesty and transparency are non-existent. Or maybe you have it with your co-workers, but you know management isn’t being truthful.
That sucks. But it doesn’t mean you need to play by those same rules.
Folks who have any experience with change management know that a huge element of it is managing the people side of change. I had a co-worker who was an expert in change management, and would conduct trainings on how to form committees of employees to assist during times of change at companies. The important thing about these groups was that there would be no managers. No one in a position of authority to control what was talked about. The group would be a conduit between staff and management, and could make recommendations purely from the staff perspective.
My co-worker once told me a story about doing a change management training where she emphasized, “Unless you manage the people side of change, your change will fail.” And the manager, at the back of the room, nodded his head vigorously. She repeated it for emphasis. And he again agreed.
So after the training, she went to talk to him. “So, you’re going to form a change management team?” she asked. “Oh no,” he said. “We don’t have time for that!”
And that’s how it seemed to work with transparency at my agency. Talk to any manager about the need to be transparent about decisions and to keep employees in the loop, and they would vigorously agree. And then, when a major change was happening? No information, staff becoming increasingly upset and stressed, and in the end, usually a last minute email letting employees know how they’re being impacted in the most disconnected way possible.
There are some workplaces where this is taken to a terrible extreme, where management knows their company is about to shut down, but doesn’t tell staff because they want them to keep working until the last possible moment.
But the thing is, most employees know things are wrong. They know they’re not getting the full story. If you’re not being honest with them, you’re going to lose them. They may still be physically present, but they’re not with you. Not really.
Everyone deserves the dignity of being treated like a full human being, and part of that is showing them you’re a human being too. Just be honest.