Posted By Leslie Dickson
Raise your right hand and solemnly swear…
It seems like building a strong team would be easier if everyone had to take that pledge when they walked in the office door each morning. It seems like effectiveness would be higher. It seems like more work would get done more quickly.
Yes, it seems like a good idea. But apparently it’s not. According to Dana Theus, almost half of the 155 respondents to her unscientific survey said telling the truth to a boss wasn’t necessarily good for a career. Eight in 10 believe they’ve suffered career retaliation at least once for truth-telling to a superior.
Yes, I know. What one person may consider truth may be simply faulty opinion to another. And, truth that’s told out of cruelty instead of concern can do more harm than good. Still, as a leader, you need to foster open and honest exchanges upon which to make decisions. In fact, Theus notes a study by the Corporate Executive Board that found organizations with closed cultures had a more than 5% lower total shareholder return.
It’s easy to hear truth when it matches your own opinion but what if it doesn’t? If you’re angry and upset, you’re likely to miss something important – whether it’s a crucial fact you’ve overlooked, a tiny nugget of truth wrapped in misguided opinion, or simply the misguided mindset of a team member.
Here’s how to get the most from the situation:
- First, stop and breathe. That will help you settle yourself, cap your anger and irritation, and truly listen.
- Show respect for the other person. A dismissive response or losing your temper doesn’t serve either of you nor your organization.
- Probe for the facts with an open mind. You’re not looking to refute the message, just gathering as much information as possible.
- Acknowledge truth-tellers’ efforts and thank them. If you’re not ready to respond, for reasons of time or emotion, set another time to do so.
Of course, the conversation itself isn’t the only risk for the team member sharing a negative viewpoint. After the fact, be certain you honestly consider the message. Consider the strength of you own data, examine your position, seek out additional data. And, of course, be open to changing your mind.
What if, after careful review, you judge that the “truth” isn’t? You owe it to your organization and team member to talk things through, explain your reasoning and work for understanding and harmony. Try resolving the problems through Dialogue, not argument. This step-by-step process of collaboration can help resolve issues based on inquiry, listening, the respectful interchange of ideas, and designing ways to test competing viewpoints.
Hearing critical – even hurtful – information from colleagues may not be pleasant. But if it’s handled positively and professionally, it’s good for everyone…to tell the truth.
We can teach you all of this and more through our Leading Relationships seminar!
Image by Karrierebibel.de