Good management is built on honesty, transparency, and accountability to increase employee engagement. As your company continues to grow, so does the pressure on employees to prove their worth. In return, leaders are encouraged to trust their employees and by showing that they are being seen and heard.
Where are we going and where do I fit in?
Show your employees you trust them and you’re keeping them in the loop regarding company direction. It’s that simple. My adult children who are working in tech companies have struggled to understand where their companies are headed and it is demoralizing. The biggest killer for employees is when they feel like nobody knows the real direction, and they don’t see how they fit into the forward motion of the company. This might not have anything to do with diversity and inclusion, but it’s connected to strong communication channels, personal relationships, and transparency.
Establish a solid company vision, mission, and set annual goals and objectives that align with your company’s mission. Then, communicate it consistently through a variety of channels such as monthly all-hands meetings that reinforce the message, or a quarterly 3-hour retreat that focuses on team building. With this type of communication, employees will feel more comfortable about where the company is headed and motivated to contribute to its success.
Trust them and they will give their all
We all know that micromanagement is a morale killer. That and other management mistakes that tell your team you don’t trust them can make them sick and unproductive. When you treat employees like you don’t trust them, it sends them into a fight or flight mode. They’re unable to be creative and stay focused because they’re trying to protect themselves. The key is to provide easy communication channels for employees to show their results, get real-time feedback and ask for help.
Don’t just say it, act on it
“We value our employee’s opinion.”
Make sure you hear from employees, listen to their opinions and their feedback on how the company can do better. Then, acting on employee feedback is key to building trust. This is a statement that many organizations have posted on their website, or mentioned during interviews. But do they act on it? It all comes down to one’s behavior and monitoring your response that you welcome employee opinions and feedback. This behavior and acceptance have to be real and authentic and embedded throughout the organization, so everyone is treated fairly.
Get decision making as close to the client or solution as possible
The person closest to a situation or solution is almost always the ones who will have the best possible feedback to that situation or solution. It doesn’t matter what their role is, as long as they’ve had first-hand involvement, they will give you valuable answers. It’s good for the customer and product and you will create loyalty in your team when they feel more involved and part of the solution. Also, leaders who are move involved in their team’s development and personal growth shows employees are being seen and heard. For example, allow your teams to focus on projects and tasks that will help their career development and organization growth as opposed to only satisfying what the leaders might think is only good for the company. Remember, your employees are also the eyes and ears of your organization and are involved in the details of specific situations that you might not be. So, getting their input is just as valuable as your superior.
Being transparent with your organization
Transparency is a big one. Imagine being in an all-hands meeting, and an executive says, “everything in the company is going great. We have no issues.” Well, that’s probably happened to most of us, and when it is invariably isn’t true, leaders erode trust. Part of the employee’s understanding of the company’s direction, is telling them the good, the bad, and the ugly. This isn’t to scare them off; it’s just another way to build and maintain mutual trust.
Set up structures and encourage employees to be accountable to each other. I love using dashboards for transparency purposes to show the team’s progress. We regularly report on our dashboard results, the concerns, solutions, and celebrations. The team is accountable to each other because it all impacts the whole.
When your team is aware of what’s going on internally, from a department or company-wide level, they feel more motivated and part of the entire team effort.
Using a framework that values feedback
There are several different ways to generate feedback and transparency. As the founder of my organization, How Women Lead, one technique I use is for decision making leans on a facilitation technique: We all get in a room, popcorn ideas (no idea if discussed or discarded), then write them up on the whiteboard. Then, once everyone has expressed their opinions on the whiteboard, each individual walks around the room and adds 3-4 dots or bullet points to the ideas or solutions that they like the best. In this instance, there is total transparency as to why one idea was chosen over another, and everyone gets heard. Sometimes people will popcorn an idea, and they don’t even vote for their own. This is a success! You avoid them feeling undervalued or a sense of needing to take up airtime explaining their viewpoint. Frameworks and tools like this are used to increase trust and engagement and a sense of commitment.
Creating a sense of transparency and trust doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, team effort, and a commitment to your organization that employee feedback is essential. Share your story with us on how you create trust and transparency with your organization.