Do you ever feel like your staff keeps you in the dark?
Do you ever wonder if they’re going out of their way to keep you out of their way?
That seems ridiculous. AND, it’s entirely possible.
Here’s the scary part if you’re looking to build a courageous, truth-telling culture. The higher your name is on the org chart, the more likely this is happening to you.
(As we write this, we’re envisioning our favorite direct reports Facebook messaging one another “Should we tell them we did that to them too?”) This “keeping you in the dark” thing happens to most leaders from time to time—even the best-intentioned.
When the pressure for performance is high, your team really cares, and they’re not getting the support they need—they may be tempted to work around you.
Your team decides what you can handle. Like parents protecting young children, they safeguard you and themselves.
To get the real deal, avoid these common traps.
6 Reasons Your Staff Keeps You in the Dark (and What to do Instead)
- Rush To Fix It – Did you ever have a boss that tries to fix every problem themselves, without fully understanding the subtleties of the scene? It can wreak havoc, right? Keep in mind that your “fix” may aggravate the situation. Escalating a concern may damage peer relationships they’ve been working hard to develop. Calling the supplier directly may derail negotiations. Instead, ask how you can best help. Our 9 What’s Problem Solving model is a great process for helping your staff think more critically and solve problems on their own.
- Model It – Your team watches how you manage your boss. Watch what filtering you model. If you want them to be more transparent, be more transparent. We’ve seen managers who simultaneously encourage their team to bring them issues AND coach them not to breathe a word to their boss.
- Freak Out – Breathe. Nothing will shut them down more than high-emotions.
- Use It Against Them – They don’t want their mistakes to haunt them. And after all, if you don’t know, you can’t “ding” them. Work to help your team recover from setbacks and mistakes. Sharing some stories of your own mistakes and poor choices can help too. Empowering them with the D.A.R.N. method for delivering bad news can also make a big difference.
- Assign More Work – They’re already overwhelmed working the issue. Roll-up your sleeves to brainstorm what needs to happen next AND what needs to move down on their list to make room for that. We’ve seen too many managers leaving their boss’ office cursing under their breath regretting bringing the whole thing up.
- Require More Updates – Now you’re nervous. It’s natural to want more frequent updates. If you need more info, make it easy for them to share. The team doesn’t have time to build more Powerpoints to update you. They’ve got work to do.
You get more of what you recognize and appreciate. If you want courageous transparency, thank your team for shedding a little light on what you really need to know.
What are your best practices to encourage your team to tell you the truth?