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October 26, 2008
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From my experience I think the most powerful tool one can use with people is straight, honest, complete communication. People are not dumb and don`t like being treated as such. I hated when I had bosses or I received any corporate communication and it was very clear that this was not true, was not complete information.
Many years ago I attended a meeting where we had a presentation from a senior manager of the company. The company was going through a tough moment and was not easy to get promotions, to hire people to positions where we had lost people etc. In the end of the presentation a colleague asked about it to this manager. Instead of going straight he engaged in a word-game, meaning of specific words in the question trying to say that everything was normal and that this moment was just a wrong impression we had (worth to say the whole sector had problems and anyone who watched the news knew that!). That made him look silly and we land lost confidence in him and felt stupid. he should have been straight saying something like: "All the companies of our sector are going through a complex moment and we are not different, so now we will have to hold for a while, to keep together working as a team patiently because it will pass and them we will grow together, we will remember those who have been through it together. That would have been honest.
I`ve had honest relationships both with my bosses and with the teams I managed. Once I had a boss that was a very open person, and once he made a decision that affected me and a fully desagreed. I`ve got to his table and held my opinion. We could not agree, he kept his, but the simple fact that we were able to hold a honest straightforward conversation made both feel better.
When I managed people it was the same thing. I`m proud to say I always had very honest and direct conversations and always had some very good feedback's because of that. Of course some truth must be said with care, choosing well the words and making very clear that the objective is to grow together, to improve together. Another important thing is when you have a piece of information that for any specific reason you can not talk about, and you are asked about, how to deal with it? That`s another thing I`ve learned from a previous boss. If you usually have a straight and honest communication most people won`t mind if you just tell them that unfortunately you can not talk about that now, but that as soon as you can you will give her an answer. That has worked with me many times as both an manager as a managed.
I`m just writing that to say that sometimes, a very simple and obvious tool such as good, clear, honest communication works betters them other complex things in order to have a low turnover rate.