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Honesty is the best policy.

A half-truth is a whole lie.

No legacy is as rich as honesty.

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

There is no shortage of sayings and proverbs about the importance of being open and candid. Even in our business lives, it’s clear that transparency is significant to customers and staff.

94 percent of consumers in a recent survey reported that they would be more loyal to a brand that offers transparency, and 81 percent of employees would rather join a company that values open communication than one with perks like top health plans, free food and gym memberships.

Honesty within an organization is also positively correlated with higher employee morale, which ultimately contributes to greater engagement and retention.

It’s no wonder that honesty is one of the most common core values of companies across the globe, and yet, it can be challenging to practice daily.

Promoting a Culture of Candor

Some of us have been taught that if we don’t have something nice to say, we shouldn’t say anything at all. Others may hesitate to share their opinions out of a concern for hurting someone’s feelings or a desire to avoid potential confrontation.

Yet, the data shows that creating a culture of candor is important internally and externally. Even if being transparent can make us – and others – feel vulnerable, the benefits are worth it. So how can you start building an environment where honesty is encouraged and valued?

I invite you to begin by focusing first on your team and your organization. When your employees feel confident having candid conversations with one another, they will be better positioned to be transparent externally as well.

Step 1: Create opportunities for candor

The first step for managers as well as Human Resources, Learning & Development and Organizational Development teams is to create mechanisms that encourage open communication.

Some opportunities you can consider include:

  • Developing mentorship or peer-to-peer coaching programs
  • Creating platforms and policies for 360 feedback
  • Ensuring team members complete quarterly performance reviews
  • Promoting regular check-ins on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis

Step 2: Provide training

In the book Radical Candor, author Kim Scott describes the importance of being direct with your feedback while also demonstrating that you care personally about the individual and their growth. Some team members may be well practiced at giving advice, while others may hesitate or struggle to do so in a positive way.

To help your teammates create a balance, I recommend identifying training programs to teach staff how to give candid feedback in a way that conveys compassion while still getting across essential information.

Explore different formats for the training and help employees practice through role playing. While it may feel scratchy at first, the best way to encourage candor is simply to practice.

Step 3: Promote psychological safety

Along with your trainings on how to provide input, it is important to foster an environment where individuals feel encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings. When employees understand that their colleagues and leaders appreciate them, their insights and approaches, it is much easier for individuals to accept honest feedback as a mechanism for improvement, rather than a challenge to their work.

You can help create psychological safety by hosting trainings like the Meeting of the Minds where your employees are celebrated for their brilliance and encouraged to share their unique perspectives.

I also invite you to engage in team building events and regular check-ins to help employees feel more connected and more comfortable being themselves.

Step 4: Foster emotional intelligence

You will be most effective in promoting honest communication by helping employees put themselves in their colleagues’ shoes and share advice in a way that appeals to the recipient’s preferred ways of thinking and behaving.

To empower your employees to have these thoughtful conversations, I recommend that team members connect on the Emergenetics+ mobile app to get customized tips to adjust their communication style based on their teammates’ preferences.

As you implement these steps, I’ll leave you with one final recommendation, not so much for your broader Talent Development programs but for each individual employee:

Assume positive intent.

We know our words will not always be perfect as we seek to be transparent with team members. We may put our foot in our mouth or fail to see a challenge through our colleagues’ eyes.

When we assume positive intent, however, we adopt a mindset of positivity. Staff members automatically believe that their colleagues are trying to help them do better even if the delivery of that feedback isn’t perfect. By embracing a positive mindset, you will begin to see encouraging results in employee morale and overall performance.

Interested in how you can help employees deliver candid feedback in a way that is useful for staff? Fill out the form below to discover how Emergenetics can help your company.

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