As I noted last week, I believe that transparency is an essential element of leadership. Below is part two of my article for Upsize Magazine on being a transparent leader.
Do a Temp Check
Twice a year, we, at PLUS, survey our employees to better understand their thoughts about what they believe is working and, more importantly, what they believe needs to be improved. One of the best barometers to measure employee engagement is to provide them a platform for open, honest, and confidential feedback. Our survey gauges thoughts about the company, the employees' managers, and the employees' roles.
Companies that use this type of tool must be willing to listen and take the positive feedback with the negative. In addition to processing the comments, they also need to be willing to take action. Employees who take the time to be honest and frank with their feedback need to know that they are being heard and that change will occur. Organizations that fail to act on their findings undermine the process of gathering the information, which can have a negative effect on morale.
When faced with adversity, it’s important to be open and honest so that employees have a sense of how the organization is responding. The economic downturn a few years ago was particularly challenging for our industry, and resulted in a downturn in business for our organization; however, layoffs weren’t an option we wanted to consider.
Instead of discussing the future direction behind closed doors and dictating it to our staff, we shared the issues with our employees and let them know that we didn’t want to lose any of their valuable talents. We also knew that we needed a strategy for the future.
I was touched, but not completely surprised, when every employee – including those on the Executive team – took pay cuts and unpaid leave to demonstrate their support and belief in the long-term vision. Our efforts paid off, and while some in our industry faltered, we had set the stage for consecutive years of record growth.
In the end, true leadership isn’t based on a title, it’s about serving others – giving the best of yourself, assuming the best of others, and having the desire to see everyone succeed.