Tide Ventures

Open and Honest communication is the foundation of employee engagement as it’s linked to trust.

You may short cut any other element of staff engagement but I haven’t seen an organization do well at staff engagement that hasn’t focused on effective open and honest communication.

No one trusts us when we lie. That’s a fact. Not our spouse, not our children, not our employers and certainly not our employees!

Lying to our staff, telling half-truth, withholding information and under-communication destroys trust in organizations.

It creates an ‘US’ and ‘THEM’ culture and sabotages any possibility of employee engagement.

If you are serious about creating engagement in any relationship- specifically in your organization, you need to stop the lies and build trust.

The Edelman Trust Barometer examined the state of trust in organisations and found that trust decreases as you go down the ladder.

  • 64% of executives trust their companies.
  • 51% of managers trust their companies.
  • 48% of entry level employees trust their companies.

Why does trust decrease as we go down the ladder of hierarchy? 

According to Eldelmen, the blame goes to a simple lack of basics of doing what we promise. They recommend; “Be honest. Do what you say you will do. Admit when you are wrong. Provide information. And listen”. This makes you more human than an office or a tittle. It’s far easier to trust a human being with a face, a name and values than the title on the business card.

What would happen if organisations spent much of their staff related budget on building open and effective communication and trust instead of building legal documentation that is meant to protect us when the staff sue?

If we live with the fear of being sued by our staff- do we smell a rat?

According to Patty McCord, Former Chief Talent Office at Netflix, “many of us in HR go to work every day thinking all of our staff are out to sue us. So we invent all these rules and policies. Couldn’t we try something different? Maybe our people wouldn’t sue us so much if didn’t piss them off with lies?” 


Under communication is another area where management fails. Important to note is that the employees lose much less than you lose as an employer when you don’t avail them with all information they need to make the necessary decisions for their jobs. It robes you of your team’s creativity, effective scalable decision making and an empowered feeling that leads to staff engagement.

When it comes to empowering employees with enough information, Keith Rabois has this to say;

“If you want people to make the same decision you would make, but in a more scalable way, you have to give them the same information you have.”

When your staff have all the information, then they become part of the solution. They take on the ownership mentality. Now they realize that if it’s going to happen, it’s up to them to make it happen. They feel powerful. 

Transparency eliminates suspicion and gossip and creates room for trust to grow among the team as well as between the team and management. Being as honest with your employees will make them feel that you are a team. Employees are likely to go to war for what they understand. They know it’s value. So they’ll invest their time, effort, energy to make it work.

Communication brings clarity, motivation and commitment to the vision.

A clear vision statement helps unify corporate environments. When your team understand where they are going and why, they can be better united and driven towards a common goal, reducing the risk of misinterpretation and mistakes within the company.

This reduces unnecessary and directionless tasks and keeps an organization on the path toward success.

If a company and its team are aligned with a clear vision, they are more likely to be motivated and inspired to work. People within a business are better able to align with the core values of a company, commit to their roles, and engage with not only their tasks but also the long-term goals of their workplace.

When there is clarity of vision, people get exposure to the business beyond what they see every day. They also get the context for how their role fits into the bigger picture which makes them feel that they are an important part of the organization.

Communication is two way. It includes both Speaking and Listening.  

It is an inherent part of human nature to want to be powerful. We desire to be heard, seen and acknowledged. Employees who feel trusted and powerful will do more than you- the employer expects of them. 

For employees to speak up however, they have to feel safe and not be threatened with repercussions. This takes conscious effort from the manager. It takes humility. It takes being willing to hear some truths that you would rather not hear. It means being willing to accept when you are wrong. It means accepting that a member of your team could have a better idea than yours.

Most organizational leaders do not hear the whole truth from their front line workers. People do not speak up but actually have a lot of information that could take your organization to the next level, get you your next win or if not heard and acted upon, which could destroy the organization.

The power resides at the top while all the information resides at the bottom. Employees are the ones who interact with customers daily, get all the complaints, know what makes customers happy. But do managers hear everything? One Sidney Yoshida quantified it in his 1989 study that he called the Iceberg of ignorance. He found that 4% of the organisation’s frontline problems are known by top managers, 9% by middle managers, 74% by managers and 100% by employees.

A question is, who has the power to make or break your organization?

The key goal should be a culture where staff trust leadership enough to speak up.  

When employees feel there are no repercussions when they share their feelings, or if they don’t agree with an idea from the boss, they feel confident and are willing to share more. 

This will give leadership an advantage as more ideas will come in from experienced people.

More so, when people realize their ideas are being considered and implemented, they see their own value to the team and to the company. This is when employees start to apply themselves fully, participate in problem solving and protect the company from any possible business challenges.

To conclude, managers and business owners shouldn’t need to control and push people. Allow them the pride of understanding how important their role is. Let them feel trusted within clear boundaries. Provide enough information for them to make informed decision, and allow them a voice without fear of repercussions for having divergent views- then watch your business and organisation soar.


Click here for details on our Staff Engagement Programs

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