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The art of transparent communication

Wednesday, May 1, 2024 - Joe Kiedinger

Diverse team strategically planning at a white board

Big Pressures

Let me put myself in your shoes for a moment. As a leader, you have a lot on your mind. Aside from day-to-day meetings and moving tasks forward, you also have the unique responsibility of leading and managing a group of other human beings. Heck, you’re responsible for their very livelihood. And that’s no small thing.

You have big decisions to make and a lot of people depending on you to make the right ones. It can be lonely when you face stressors and don’t feel there’s anyone appropriate to share your thoughts with. You want your team to feel secure in their employment and motivated to charge ahead. That often keeps leaders like you from sharing vulnerability and, instead, choosing to figure things out on their own.

Which Direction?

However, as a leader, it’s important to recognize that taking the safest path doesn’t always mean that it’s the right path. We are responsible for the growth, success, development, and wellbeing of everyone in our team. We also need to lead that team to achieve goals together. That means, we need to be transparent when we communicate. Withholding or sugarcoating information doesn’t move teams forward.

Don’t get me wrong, transparency isn’t easy. A lot of us struggle being transparent with family and our closest friends, so it makes sense that it’s even harder in the workplace. It’s hard to know how much to share or what your team needs to know.

What Employees Want

If it gives you any peace of mind, your employees want to a clear picture of what’s going on at work. They want honest feedback about their performance and to learn how they can improve. Did you know? Transparency is one of the most important factors to earning your team’s trust and loyalty. And the numbers don’t lie.

Here’s the data pulled by my awesome Dignify team:

  • A whopping 46% of employees have said that they’ve sought other job opportunities due to a lack of transparency from their leader.
  • According to a study published on Harvard Business Review, 70% of workers state that they are more engaged when their managers communicate openly with them.
  • According to a Slack survey, 87% of workers hope their next job will be transparent.
  • Research from Future Forum shows that employees are 12x more satisfied with their jobs when they perceive transparent communication in their workplace.

If you want to create a more innovative and collaborative team based on trust, you’ve got to get after transparent communication.

Getting Started

So, what can YOU do, right now to start practicing more transparency? First, practice the art of vulnerability in small steps. It might start with a story from your childhood that has impacted who you are as an adult or a bit of honesty about something that is stressing you out at work or at home. It’s time to get comfortable with sharing what isn’t always comfortable.

Brené Brown says, “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

People are intuitive. They value authenticity. They can very easily pick up when someone isn’t telling them the full truth or being open with them. In order to be authentic, you have to be willing to be vulnerable and share some things you might normally hold back.

Transparent communication is a skill in itself. Once you start working on it, you’ll get more comfortable as you go along. Here are some examples of things leaders can do to communicate transparently, from Pumble:

  • Expressing empathy for the people on your team and their situations – be understanding and set realistic expectations for them
  • When you truly cannot share something, explain the reasons why, rather than holding it back without any explanation
  • Be welcoming and inviting to conversations and feedback
  • Behave with stability and consistency
  • Provide clarity by using words that everyone can understand

Transparent communication is not easy, but it’s worth it.

Joe Kiedinger

ACTION PLAN: Start with one small moment of transparency this week. Share a story from your life or be honest about something that’s stressing you out. Your team wants to know you, authentically. Let them!

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