The conversation immediately triggered me to think. That business owner had just spent a few hundred thousand dollars to hear candid feedback on the ideas he supports. That was his price tag for losing the ability to equip his team to talk honestly and directly to him.
LEAD THE WAY
Many people use humor as a tool to cope with social situations they witness. A couple of friends use it in a particular way. When they see someone with a bad combination of clothes or colors or even an inappropriate outfit for an occasion, they like to say, "those persons have no friends" - meaning that if they had any, they would not allow them to go out dressed like that. Yes, mean and judgemental, but true. If we always have someone to give us a second honest opinion, it can save us a lot of face value when expressing ourselves out there. Many mentees shared with me this last year their regrets about inappropriate comments made in past decades about race, gender, and age that they could avoid if they "knew better." And to know better, we need to be trained to listen to feedback and, above all, welcome them as a valuable tool for advancement.
Creating work environments where people trust each other and direct conversations can happen respectfully is priceless. If you are a team leader, your team members will quickly read your preferred form of dialogue and react to it. If you like to be flattered by your contributions, they will learn to give you compliments. If you are a data-driven decision maker, they will try to support their proposals better when approaching you. If you tend to be more process-oriented, they will always bring a view of the impact of their projects on the operations. So it is your role to hint the team in the right ways and be mindful of the desired outcomes. Communication can be tricky, and the more direct we talk to each other, the more clarity and productivity we will drive with positive business impact. Practicing active listening is a golden standard to refine common understanding and establish a team's way of understanding shared themes. Most high-performing teams master those skills.
TEN HINTS TO CREATE A CULTURE OF CANDID CONVERSATIONS
Hence, you need to show the way and lead by example. If you put actual results above your own opinions, you will foster a behavior where all members will be more analytical and customer-oriented about their work. In a nutshell, be mindful of how you want to build your work relationships. Express satisfaction and gratitude for people challenging your concepts. Find compromises where possible and share the sense of ownership for all ideas with your team. Those are good ways to stimulate productive conversations in the workplace.
Here are ten more hints to help create a culture of candid discussions in your group.
- Acknowledge every contribution to a conversation in a transparent way.
- Value ideas that expand the conversation frame or go against your beliefs. Ask questions and clarify every point until you genuinely understand different points of view.
- Invite more people to a topic if no one diverges from the same concepts and ideas.
- Hire Mentors for you and your team members. Mentors will provide candid feedback on topics no one else can, and your team will learn essential skills.
- Encourage people to challenge you directly in an open forum.
- Lead by example and always give candid feedback - don't forget to be nice when doing it.
- Center topics and conversations around desired results.
- Do not get stuck on arguments. Ask for more data to clarify sticky points.
- Practice active listening continuously, and coach your team to do it too.
- Openly recognize top talent for being candid and respectful in conversations.
Practicing that will make you more aware of every task and project and help you move faster as a decision-maker. You may save time in needless meetings and reduce time on others. You will encourage people to talk frankly to you, and they will always know why you made decisions that way. The halo effect of that change in people is breathtaking. More productivity emerges from higher engagement and collaboration as trust grows among peers. All desirable side effects from one intentional move you can do today. My last piece of advice to you is to go ahead and hire a Mentor. They will help you with your discipline and techniques to apply.