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When Transparency Goes Too Far

When Transparency Goes Too Far post image

My phone rang, “Karin I’ve just been told there’s going to be a restructure and significant downsizing. My team may or not be impacted. I have NO additional information, just that it will be months before all the dust settles.”

Now, if you’ve been following my writing for any period of time you know I’m the poster child for  transparency. I believe strongly in telling the truth, avoiding spin, and never making crap up.

But frankly the above scenario is a clear example of TMI. Too Much Information.

It’s too much information, precisely because there was not enough information. All my client received was enough insight to cause stress, uncertainty and disruption.

I see examples of pre-mature disclosure wreaking havoc all the time.

Yes. Transparency goes a long way in building trust.

At the same time, over-disclosure can send your team off the deep-end worrying about all kinds of issues for which they have no control.

If you’re like most managers there are times you didn’t shared enough and your team made crap up, and there are times you said too much and your team freaked out.

Questions to Consider When Deciding How Much To Communicate

Here are a few important questions to consider when determining how much to communicate.

  • Have I been told the information is proprietary? As long as nothing unethical is going on, when your boss asks you not share, don’t share. If you don’t understand why the information is sensitive, ask. Even those who seem to appreciate your bringing them in to the inner circle, will wonder if they can trust you with sensitive information moving forward.
  • What is my motive for sharing this information? If it’s to assuage your guilt or to have someone to commiserate in your stress you’re probably getting ready to share too much.
  • Does my team need this information to make informed decisions?

If you’re team is going down a path that this new information will derail, it’s important to share what you can or to slow them down.

  • Will having this information make it easier more difficult for the team to do their work effectively? One of your biggest roles as a manager is to remove roadblocks and grease the skids for success, that includes sharing the right amount of information to support the team in doing their work without creating unnecessary distractions.

The Winning Well Tour Continues

Winning Well Book SigningThis week, the Winning Well tour stopped in CA for the ICMI conference. We would love to speak to your organization or work with your team. Please call me at 443 750 1249 to learn more.

 

 

 

Your turn. Is there such a thing as too much transparency?
Filed Under:   winning well
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, & Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. She’s the author of 2 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.
 

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What People Are Saying

Greg Marcus   |   13 May 2016   |   Reply

Hi Karin,

Absolutely there can be too much transparency, just as there can be too much Truth. If the Truth you are going to tell is going to hurt someone else, unless there is an even bigger positive, it is best not to say anything. You list some very good rules of thumb for when to speak and when to stay quiet about information.

Karin Hurt   |   16 May 2016   |   Reply

Hi Greg,
Great to hear from you. You add a very important point here about not saying words that harm. Thank you!

zafarmanzoor   |   14 May 2016   |   Reply

Excellent points to remember indeed by the extraordinary performers.
I appreciate this unique post – Karin.
Excess of everything (information) is bad – not required.
Nevertheless for high performance teams, sharing of necessary & relevant corporate information (by the Sr. Management) is essential.
It is a age of “communications”.
Regards,
Zafarmanzoor.
Sr. Executive, FFC, Pakistan.

Karin Hurt   |   16 May 2016   |   Reply

Zaformanzoor,
I totally agree with you! I am certainly not advocating for holding back important information. So glad you have you sharing your insights from Pakistan! Thank you.

Liz Guthridge   |   14 May 2016   |   Reply

Hi Karin, I agree and I also appreciate transparency. However if something is interesting but not useful, you need to pause before sharing. Information without action can be clutter for the brain.

Great post!

Karin Hurt   |   17 May 2016   |   Reply

Liz, Thanks so much! I love that lens… “interesting but not useful.” Great add.