"Transparent" communication has become a buzzword in recent leadership circles, but I'm finding that many leaders are a little confused about what transparency in your communications really means. Always letting your team know what's going on with the organization and being open to what they have to say a bout it is important--but it's not the whole story. Transparency means embracing a 360-degree approach to communication with your team that is developed and executed to serve all parties including leadership, management, employees, and others such as third-party suppliers or customers that are also integral to your success. Here are four strategies that will help you implement this type of communication structure.
Be Clear in Your Directions
How many times have you given a team member a task and then been completely blindsided when the project went off the rails? Let's be honest here: your employees cannot read your mind no matter how much you'd like them to. If you don't give them clear instructions, you can't expect them to perform duties the way you pictured them in your head. Of course, giving your team members the flexibility to perform jobs they see fit is also valuable, but if you have a certain roadmap in mind, it benefits everyone if you communicate it clearly.
Make Sure You Communicate Expectations
Whether or not you want certain directions followed or you're empowering employees to get things done their own way, you absolutely must communicate your expectations. This includes when you expect the task to be done, whether or not they can (or should) involve others, and what type of outcome you would like to see once the task is completed. Don't make your team guess what type of results you want. This only sets them up for failure and you for disappointment.
Ask For and Listen to Input
An effective leader is one who not only asks for input from the team, but who has also established a reputation of being easy to talk to and a good listener. As you're giving directions and communicating expectations, frequently stop to make sure everyone is on the same track and that no one has questions about the information. If someone does have questions or comments, listen with an open mind and carefully consider it before responding. This leads into point number four...
Create Space for Open and Honest Communication
As a leader, you are constantly training your employees who to act around you. If you routinely ignore suggestions, lash out at those who challenge you, or generally establish that you're the top dog, your team will quickly learn what not to do: be honest. On the other hand, if you create space for others to share what's on their mind without judgment or consequences, they will learn that openness and honesty are not only acceptable, they're encouraged.
Effective communication is at the core of every successful organization and, as a leader, you're the one who must set the tone for transparency. By using the above four strategies, you can ensure that open and honest communication is the norm and make every team member feel valuable.
Trish Cody is an Executive Awareness Coach and Speaker who focuses on optimizing results for business leaders. With over 20 years of experience as a strategic consultant for some of the world's top Fortune 500 companies, Trish Cody has coached and consulted with senior level teams in planning, designing, launching, and measuring the return for major initiatives. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Practitioner, Trish works with senior level leaders and business owners to raise their levels of self-awareness and create more trust, loyalty and success in their businesses and teams. Contact Trish at firstname.lastname@example.org.