Do You Communicate Honestly?

by Mike Sleppin

Mike Sleppin's specialty is creating significant positive change in people-intensive industries whose business environment is changing rapidly. For example, since 1989, Mike has worked with firms touching every facet of the construction, transportation and printing industries as well as the other professional groups (Architects, Accountants, Engineers, Commercial Insurance etc) that service those niche markets. As a highly experienced, global business traveler, he helps small to mid-sized organizations understand and plan for their successful expansion into global markets. As a result of Mike's body of work, organizations achieve the goals that are important to them on a regular and consistent basis.

Almost everyone I speak to lately tells me that the level of trust between and among people, in our country, is at the lows of their life experiences. We often don't trust government, we often don't trust those we have business dealings with or we don't trust some who are closest to us. In your organization, when people feel betrayed because their managers don't seem to trust them what impact do you believe that has?

The issue begins and ends at the top. Trust in any institution depends on whether the leaders are communicating honestly and believably. What is the message when leaders say our employees are our 'most important asset', but at the first whiff of a slowdown lay off some of their 'most important asset'?

Mr./Mrs. Big, your job just got a lot more difficult. The extent to which you are able to create an organization that is sustainable ECONOMICALLY, ETHICALLY, and SOCIALLY, is part of your new position.

One of the ways to accomplish these difficult tasks is COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY. Think of the people you most trust. They don't play shell games with you. How many marriages dissolve because of lack of trust? Perhaps the most important thing you will do next week is to begin a conversation with other organizational leaders about the best action steps we can take that will start the journey that will improve transparency with employees, customers, vendors, and perhaps the community. J.P.Morgan didn't agree to fork over thirteen billion dollars because they're nice guys, they paid up because they people were hurt by their actions. This would not have happened twenty years ago. Now, almost every week we read of another scam being brought to our attention.

How many contrarians in your organization have been punished because they told a truth that was not welcome? How many people are afraid to speak the truth to power, which results in problems that the firm could have avoided? What did these problems ultimately cost in hard dollars and soft costs because they weren't dealt with early on?

At UCLA, a study indicated that the largest part of communication is the other person's perception of who you really are. In the bad old days of the Cold War, we and the Soviets understood each other. The main reason we could not see eye to eye is because neither side trusted much of what the other side proclaimed. If you can't thaw the Cold Wars going on in your organization (and they are going on) you're running a horse in a race who only has three legs. It is a safe bet that nag ain't going to run in the money very often!