Whether you are trying to rally your sales team, gain buy-in from your customer service team, or simply want to get your leadership team on the same page, there is nothing more crucial to building an Unstoppable Team than making transparency a top priority in communication.
I’ve had the good fortune of working with literally hundreds of teams over the past decade in all sorts of situations, and I’ve found there is nothing more important than transparency. Team members should feel obligated to share their reservations and concerns, but also their excitement and eagerness.
Unfortunately, the reason this often isn’t the case is that leaders create perceptions (often inadvertently) around what feedback is acceptable.
Enter the need for transparency
Let’s look at an example. Suppose I was going to introduce a new procedure that required all employees in sales to take a few additional minutes to log their phone calls into a CRM (customer relationship management) system. This initiative was decided upon by senior leadership, and hence now needs to be rolled out to employees.
In many organizations today, the supervisor or manager would explain to the employees the additional steps, possibly sharing some training to help them, and that’s it. If asked about the reasons “why” the change is necessary, more than likely they wouldn’t have the exact reasoning or would simply shrug and say it was a “management decision”.
Transparency within an organization means everyone understands why.
In a transparent team, the reasons “why” something is important are as important as the thing itself. Before any discussions are ever had, the first step is always ensuring complete transparency, which means explaining why something is necessary, and then, in turn, being open to questions or feedback.
So, in the instance above, senior management would communicate with employees and the leader to explain the reasons for the change and the intended or targeted outcomes. They would accept feedback and continue the dialogue so long as they remain productive (effective transparency doesn’t accommodate complaints or griping).
What does transparency look like in a team setting?
The rules around transparency are quite simple, but also require some discomfort. It’s not easy to listen to feedback about an initiative that, as a leader, you may have already decided is necessary. But it’s being open to feedback, and more importantly, considering and reflecting upon the feedback, that, in turn, supports transparency.
When it comes to building a team that is Unstoppable, there is nothing more critical than transparency. Understanding what transparency is, and how to use it, is a skill that leaders need to develop and practice. So, the next time you prepare for a meeting with your team, ask yourself these questions:
- What questions might I be asked by those attending?
- How can I respond in a way that is open and transparent, but maintains a positive perspective?
- Will I need more information to be able to justify or respond? If so, what do I need and how can I access it?
- Is there someone else I should invite to this meeting who can provide context directly? Who and how will I incorporate them?
- How will I summarize any questions and ensure they are responded to in a timely manner?
A team is more than a collective group of people with a common goal. It requires everyone on the team to believe they have an equal voice, one that is heard and understood. Transparency is the key to not only providing employees a voice, but ensuring we answer the question “why”. Doing so will increase interest and support, and will place you well on your way to building an Unstoppable Team.
© Shawn Casemore 2019. All Rights Reserved.
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