Why you should share the juicy details with your staff (February 1, 2022)
By Sean Foster
If you don’t open up about the juicy details of your business, for example the financials, your employees will use their imagination to reach all kinds of wild conclusions. This is human nature, and inevitably it will erode trust within the team culture.
Trust is essential to successful business because it helps create psychological safety, a stronger team culture, loyalty and more motivated employees. It can also prompt staff to reveal things that are hidden, that may be undermining the success of your business, which they may not have felt confident about raising previously.
Based on my own business experience and after asking many others, there are five reasons why we keep things to ourselves and don’t share the realities of business with our team.
- You are concerned that any negative news will demotivate them and perhaps they will start looking for employment elsewhere.
- You are concerned that if the news is too positive that they will become dissatisfied with their pay and will expect more.
- You do not see why telling them more will result in any difference in their performance; after all, they are so busy doing their normal work.
- You are concerned that much of this information is confidential, too sensitive or dangerous to give out.
- You are concerned that if your employees know too much, they may go it alone in competition to you.
This situation is a little like the ostrich head in sand syndrome. Ostriches don’t really bury their heads in the sand, but the analogy works. We bury our heads in the sand because the finer details of the business can feel very personal and revealing something as personal as your financials makes you vulnerable – but it is exactly this vulnerability that will work in your favour.
Vulnerability demonstrates that you trust your staff and human nature will move them to reciprocate your trust, which improves all round performance.
How do you get your head out of the sand?
- Become comfortable about telling your staff more about the business performance. But not just that it is better or worse, explain why it is like it is. Explain what behaviours resulted in this outcome. Just start.
- Become outwardly ‘introspective’ – tell your staff about your thinking. Tell them how you came to a conclusion or a decision. If a decision you made did not have a great outcome, or business performance is lacking in some area, then take the accountability yourself and reflect on what you could do differently in the future to ensure a better result.
- By demonstrating your vulnerability you will develop trust between yourself and your team. The last step is to build this safe vulnerability with and between everyone in the business. This takes time and consistency – stick at it day-in, day-out.
The above is an abbreviated rundown on how to start building a great business culture. There are more strings to this bow, but trust is the starting point. Without trust, you won’t get out of the starting blocks and it begins with you. Trust starts at the top.
Sean Foster is an Auckland business coach www.seanfoster.co.nz