by | Aug 1, 2019

Leaders typically want to be seen as transparent.

At the very least, the word transparency shows up in the values of many of Tribe clients. However, transparency, particularly in large or fast-growing companies, can be difficult to achieve. Here are a handful of reasons why leaders don’t tell you what you want to know.

1. They haven’t figured everything out yet

Most often, when leadership isn’t communicating, it’s because they haven’t yet figured out the answer. This seems to happen in ranges. Some leadership teams – the more transparent ones – are comfortable communicating all that they can, even if they haven’t landed on the final answer yet. However, many leadership teams want to try to think through every detail before communicating anything.

Of course, the longer employees are kept in the dark while management is figuring things out, the more time their imaginations have to fill in the blanks. So as management waits until every i is dotted and every t is crossed, employees imagine the worst.

2. They don’t know

In every company, employees complain about managers who don’t communicate well. In most companies – and especially in non-desk environments – a key channel of communication is cascading information through managers of people.

Most managers in those more non-desk environments are not skilled communicators. They need help with when to communicate; starting the conversation; and effectively answering the questions that might come up. So if management hasn’t communicated effectively to managers, confusion will reign throughout the organization.

3. They didn’t think it was important to tell you

C-suite leadership has a necessarily different perspective than the people doing the work – the other 98 percent of the organization. They’re figuring out business issues at the 35,000-foot level that will affect the company in the future. In order to not cause distractions (among other reasons), leadership will keep these longer-term strategies close to the vest. The hope is to keep employees focused on the work that’s in front of them.

However, employees want to know where the company is heading. And if the direction is changing, they want to know what it might mean for them personally. If change is in the air, rest assured that employees have heard something and they’re talking about it.

4. They did tell you (once)

Most often, leadership did tell you. Remember the slides the CEO presented at the annual town hall? While you were waking up following the discussion on PE ratios and Cash on Hand, there were three slides on the business strategy. That was it.

The problem is that those 35,000-foot presentations don’t often come with translations that help employees understand what it means for them. So they immediately forget what the CEO said. More importantly, without the translations, many employees will interpret a change in strategy as bad news.

5. They did tell you, but you didn’t know it

Similarly, leadership may have communicated this information in great detail. A well-produced video along with lots of other great information about the company’s strategy was emailed to everyone in the company.

Unfortunately, since everyone is busy doing their work, they didn’t find time to open the email. Then the video and all of the other information was stored on the intranet to never be seen again.

Leadership wants to be transparent. While some companies are less transparent than others, we’ve seen few instances of companies purposefully not communicating to employees. Leadership generally has the best of intentions. And there is always a level of rationalization around why communications aren’t happening. However, the rationalization doesn’t build employee engagement or trust. So it remains critically important that we stay persistent with getting the word out.

Want to be more transparent with employees? Tribe can help.

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