7 Reasons You Won’t Hear The Truth

7 Reasons You Won’t Hear The Truth

Your team decides what you can handle. Like parents protecting young children, they safeguard you and themselves. They anticipate tantrums, and work around them. They’ll even throw in a few things “they’re worried about,” to make you feel better.

Don’t blame them. You’ve taught them well. Your well-intended intensity sends them to the nearest diaper genie to package their story. To get the real deal, avoid these common traps.

How To Ensure You Won’t Hear The Truth

  1. Rush To Fix It – They’ve got this. Your “fix” may aggravate the situation. Escalating may damage peer relationships they’ve been working hard to develop. Instead ask how you can best help.
  2. Model It – Your team watches how you manage your boss. Watch what filtering you model. They’re picking up these skills from you. Show them how you give your boss bad news.
  3. Freak Out – Breathe. Nothing will shut them down more than high-emotions.
  4. Use It Against Them – They don’t want their mistakes to haunt them. If you don’t know, you can’t “ding” them. Encourage them to come to you with problems and solutions. Commend them for their honesty.
  5. Assign More Work – They’re already overwhelmed working the issue. Roll-up your sleeves to brainstorm solutions, but don’t just start assigning to-dos.
  6. Bring In The experts – Sure suggest folks who can help, but resist the urge to bring in a superhero to take over.
  7. Require More Updates – Now you’re nervous. It’s natural to want more frequent updates. If you need more info, make it easy. The team doesn’t have time to build more Powerpoints to update you. They’ve got work to do.

How To Encourage The Truth

  1. T – Time: Be sensitive to scar tissue from previous bosses. Raise the issue one person at a time. Ask how you’re doing and what it will take to nurture their trust.
  2. R – Receive well: Really listen to what they’re saying. Gently probe for more information. Ask follow-up questions, including how you can best help.
  3. U – Understand: Reiterate what you’ve heard. Use empathy statements, “Wow, that must be really frustrating”.
  4. T – Take it offline: Casually talk to team members one-on-one. Ask what worries them most, and how you can help. Ask what they think you should be worried about.
  5. H – Honest: Calmly articulate any concerns. Being real with them, will encourage them to be real with you.
Filed Under:   Authenticity & Transparency, Communication
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

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What People Are Saying

Alli Polin   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

I worked for someone that in a leadership team meeting, when one of the VPs was honest with him and brought him the truth he was met with “what were you thinking?? how are you going to fix this???” In my memory he also berated him like a child for another five minutes before getting to “how can I help?” Sadly, within months, my smart colleague resigned.

Great post, Karin!

letsgrowleaders   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Alli, What a sad story. What a message that sent to the otehrs as well.

Lolly Daskal   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Truth shall set you free, but that is not always the case.

I love your acronym for telling the truth. Thanks so much for sharing an important element that we encounter in our teams, in our organizations and in our leadership.

Great message!

letsgrowleaders   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Lolly, thank you. It should set you free… not telling the truth cages us in many other ways as welll. So tricky….

Matt McWilliams   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Ugh. #1 was a needed reminder. I KNOW not to rush to fix things, but it feels like I can’t help it sometimes.

I found that the reason is that I am a High D, go-go-go, “what’s next?” type of person. So my response to peoples’ problems is “Here’s how to fix this. What’s next?”

So yeah…I haven’t really gotten past that barrier to the truth yet.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Matt, Yeah #1 is my problem too ;-)

Bill Benoist   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

I’ve know several highly emotional strung managers who go ballistic when bad news hits. Just being around these individuals in the same room can be emotionally draining.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Bill, Sadly, I’ve know those guys too.

marcus hurt   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Wow! Another great post. Love the bit about diaper genie.

letsgrowleaders   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Marcus, Thanks so much.

Polly~   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Great article, extremely accurate.

One minor typo in item #7. “naturally” should be “natural.” My OCD is so extreme that I put it in alphabetical order…CDO. Please forgive my PickyB-ness. :o)

Polly~   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Ahhhh Karma. I typed my smilie with eyes, a nose, AND a smile, and it added a parenthesis at the end. Serves me right for being critical. LOL!

letsgrowleaders   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Polly, Always appreciate the help. I fixed it. Thanks!

Terri Klass   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Getting at the truth can be a tug-of-war for many leaders as they really don’t want to know if they need to redo things. The problem with team members never speaking up is following the wrong path for a long time. I have seen organizations where the employees feel it is just easier to keep their mouths shut and collect their paycheck. Those organizations never grow and oftentimes unravel.
When leaders model truth telling, team members can see how effective and healthy it can be.

Great post, Karin!

letsgrowleaders   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Terri, Thanks so much. Great addition. Buried truth and shut lips destroy culture and results.

Lynn Ferguson-Pinet   |   18 December 2013   |   Reply

Great summary, both for leaders and team members to reflect on how they handle providing bad news to their boss.


letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2013   |   Reply

Lynn thanks so much. Yes, it goes both ways.

Jon Mertz   |   19 December 2013   |   Reply

Great reminders, Karin. With all this, the role of building an open and engaging organizational culture delivers the foundation in which truth can be shared, acted upon, and learned from with a growth mindset. Accountability is still in the mix but learning and getting better needs to be, too. Thanks for these great reminders and guides. Jon

letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2013   |   Reply

John, oh absolutely… results matter. Great leaders have strong results and hold people accountable. Creating an environment where people will be straight with you is an important aspect of that.

Sam @ Sandler   |   19 December 2013   |   Reply

I love how you define truth, very similar to what I use every day. All of these are great tips and reminders to use daily. Great post!

LaRae Quy   |   19 December 2013   |   Reply

You make great points, Karin.

We all have pressure points, but the “high emotion” reaction is one that I’ve seen creating instant barriers. Drama is an effective way of shutting down the emotions in others; the truth always get subjugated in the process.

letsgrowleaders   |   19 December 2013   |   Reply

LaRae, Perfect addition. Thanks so much. It’s so important for us to understand those pressure points.