When I was little, I was always told that honesty is the best policy. It is easier to just tell the truth than make something up. At work, I was one that really wanted my team to live by this. It is so easy to tell someone what “they” want to hear. Is that being honest? If you don’t know the answer to a question, should you make something up? How about this one, how are things going? Brutally honest answer or just a light bush of the truth? There are so many opportunities for just touching on something without getting into too much detail. Here is where your team and you need to really set a solid standard of honesty or the brutal truth should be the best policy.
It is important to set the stage with your team that this is one of our standard operating procedures on everything that we do. Starting with you! You are the example of what you want your team to do. You have to be willing to:
- Never sugar coat any performance message. Stand up and discuss with your team member exactly what is happening and what needs to change.
- Never make up an answer to a team inquiry. If you don’t, say so. Make sure to commit to when you will get the answer.
- Never take things personal. If you take everything personal, others will stop being honest. You have to be able to listen and be constructive.
- Be accountable. All to often it is easy to brush off the responsibility onto someone else (especially if it is bad news). If you are going to speak, make it your words and from you!
- Be respectful. Remember that you are talking to people. That does not mean sugar-coating or using the “but” sandwich. It means making sure that you have the necessary facts and present them as you would want them presented to you.
- Take ownership. Making changes sometimes maybe difficult. How you start is critical for moving forward. Own it and make it happen.
If the team sees the leader demonstrating the expectations, they will follow. There maybe a few folks that have some difficulty with the brutal honesty, but if you keep working on asking for and demonstrating how things should be – those folks will come around in time.
Can you be honest all the time?