Honest communication is not about being warm and fuzzy, nor is it brutal communication or sharing all of your deep, dark psychological secrets. Honest communication is about saying what needs to be said in a timely manner. It’s as simple and important as that.
But in many organizations honest communication is not happening. Leaders get surprised and blind-sided by issues that they were unaware of. In fact, a big problem is not what people say but what they don’t say. The trouble brews in all of the issues or details that are left out. This is why getting the unsaid said is critical to long-term organizational success. After all, you can’t fix a problem you don’t know about and you can’t implement an idea or recommendation that no one shares. This makes honest, open communication critical to success and to sustaining that success.
I have seen successful, growing organizations start to believe that they have all of the answers and they stop being attentive to open communication—the kind of communication in which debate and opposing viewpoints are encouraged. Instead, people stop challenging each other and soon they are starting to go along to get along and eventually the competition catches up and the company loses its market share. Don’t let this happen to you.
Here are two key questions to immediately ask yourself about your team and your organization:
1. How often are people asking questions and debating each other?
2. How often are people proactively sharing ideas, suggestions, and recommendations?
If the answer is “not often,” you might be unaware of a major train wreck that is about to happen due to a lack of open, honest communication.
If there is one common key attribute among my best clients, it is that they are attentive to honest communication. In fact, they know it needs to be built and worked on every day. Just like exercising and eating right is a never-ending process to good health, honest communication is vital to the continued health of every organization. How is your organization’s health and what is your plan to sustain it?