Open and Honest

Open and Honest (This blog was submitted by Bill Greif of TG & Associates) Debra asked me to take a cut at a blog about a subject that we feel is critical to business success and growth. We often emphasize the role of leadership in the business and we cite the traits that we think represent leadership. Being open and honest with your staff is such a trait. When we work with owners we ask if they are open and honest, and they always say they are. Then we ask if they share the numbers, and the response is usually, “No, of course not. They don’t need to know that.†When I worked in aerospace, the employee profit sharing at the end of the year depended on how the company did against the goals in four major areas: Bookings (New orders), Sales (Delivered Orders), Cash On Hand, and Profitability. Every quarter, the General Manager would conduct a series of meetings across the plant site (I guess we would call them town halls today), and she would provide the status YTD for each of those four areas and the actions underway to make sure they would be met at the end of the year. If there were some serious concerns about meeting any of them, she would be open and honest about those concerns and would answer any questions from the employees. There were over 10,000 employees and they all had a chance to hear the news from the top and to question what was going to happen. In this era of economic stress and uncertainty, your employees need to know what is going on in your business and what actions you are taking to deal with the issues. They need to know that you are managing the business and that you are on top of what it takes to secure their livelihood. They also need to know how they can contribute to help secure their future. When did you hold your last town hall meeting? Don’t remember? Then it is way overdue. If you won’t be open and honest with them, then fear of the unknown may drive them to another company where they can learn what is going on.