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.
How do you get the information you need?

How do you get the information you need?

The higher you grow in the organization, the more you work in sound bites. You have so much information coming at you, you need to process it quickly, and draw conclusions. As a manager, you train your team to give you the highlights in bullet points. Swimming in too much information will bog you down.

And yet, sometimes the devil does lurk in the details.

“It’s entirely possible that you can process and file more information than anyone who has come before you. And quite likely that this filing is preventing you from growing and changing and confronting the fear that’s holding you back.”~Seth Godin, “I Get It
How do you learn the important details without micro-managing? How do you ensure you’re encouraging your team to bring you the whole story. How do you ensure you’re not just hearing what you want to hear?

How do you get the information you really need?

It’s so easy to assume you’ve seen this movie before and miss the plot twist.

Be careful not to assume 

  • you know the type (she’s not “high-potential” because you’ve seen others who looked or acted like her  who didn’t do well at the next level)
  • the market won’t react well (“it didn’t last time)
  • customers will hate it (they don’t like change)
  • this project won’t work (because a similar endeavor failed)
  • the union will resist (because they always do)
  • senior management won’t go for it (because it seems too risky)

How do you get the deeper story from your team?

Asking well encourages truth. Asking well empowers.

Empowering others doesn’t mean working in the dark.

Your team has

  • details
  • opinions
  • concerns
  • weird data they can’t explain
  • conclusions
  • possibilities
  • wacky next steps

They’ve likely been coached somewhere along the line to “not go there.” To give you just the information you need. But sometimes, “there” is exactly where you need to go to get the deeper story. Make it safe to hear what you must. Build an environment where you hear what would otherwise be left on the editing room floor.

Some Ways

  • Show up everywhere (kindly)
  • Ask questions that don’t feel like tests
  • Smile and laugh as needed
  • Express your genuine thirst to learn the truth
  • Do something with what you hear (without getting anyone in trouble)
  • Recognize the great work you see
  • Invite yourself in advance to working meetings and then listen

Empowerment happens in the daylight. Shine bright lights, and be deliberate in your reactions. Question, encourage, invite, excite, grow, develop.