“Let’s be frank.” It’s a simple phrase, right? But unfortunately, being open and honest isn’t always that easy, especially in the workplace.
After all, when you work with and manage people — especially ones you like — it can sometimes be hard to tell the open and honest truth. Who wants to hurt someone’s feelings, or address a negative behavior that’s harming the environment? Confrontation, even when it’s coming from a place of sincerity, is hard.
But it’s so important. If you can’t be frank with a coworker or employee, then issues will never get resolved. And even small issues will eventually gain momentum and become bigger ones, if not addressed in an open, honest and sincere way.
If you’ve formed an environment of honesty in your business, then congrats! You likely have a workplace with happy employees, are able to solve problems quickly and have no major issues that involve your people.
If you have an environment that could use a bit of help in the honesty department, don’t despair. Here are three ways you can begin evoking frankness in your business, to reduce cattiness, foster teambuilding and improve productivity.
3 Ways to Evoke Frankness in Your Business
1. Seek to Understand
If something needs to be addressed with an employee, there’s no need to skirt around the issue. However, instead of blurting out, “Jane, you’re doing X, and X makes me mad, so stop,” instead seek to understand why Jane is doing X behavior. For example, you could say, “Jane, I’ve noticed lately that you’ve been consistently missing your sales goals. Can you help me understand why? What can we do to help?”
This approach will evoke frankness, because you’ve made it clear to Jane that if she is struggling, you’re open to helping her find a solution. If you’ve created an environment where failure of any kind is not accepted, the likelihood of Jane coming to you with a honest issue will be much lower.
2. Create a Time and Space for Honesty
When you’re dealing with day-to-day items such as member sign-ups, cleaning, broken equipment, new marketing promotions, etc., it can hard for your employees to find the time to share their thoughts on specific issues. If not given the opportunity, they likely will continue on with their daily tasks, instead of taking a break to have a frank discussion with their boss.
That’s why it’s important for you to create the time for your employees to do so. Each month, set up a meeting where employees can bring up the issues that plagued them over those 30 days, and have an open and honest conversation around them.
At Peake Media, we jokingly call this “The Trust Tree.” Anyone can bring up anything, and expect to not be judged. As a result of “The Trust Tree,” we’ve found that issues in the workplace are solved a lot more quickly, and we rarely ever have major problems.
3. Practice What You Preach
If you’ve encouraged your employees to be honest with each other, then you need to practice this as well. Each of your staff should know that if they come to you with something, you’ll give an honest answer. That doesn’t mean never giving them constructive feedback — in fact, I mean the opposite. Being honest means giving employees your true opinion, even if it’s hard for them to hear.
Although being honest isn’t always easy, over all, an environment that fosters frankness will be a more positive and productive one.