Companies that foster and encourage honest feedback make more money than companies who don’t. Period. That’s the assertion Corporate Executive Board makes in their recent study shared by Harvard Business Review. They found that organizations who rated highly in the area of open communication delivered a 10-year TSR (total shareholder return) of 7.9% compared to 2.1% at other companies. That’s impressive.
For folks like myself who work in the area of leadership development, it comes as no surprise. However, I am always thankful when the dots are directly connected between healthy corporate cultures, effective communication, and the bottom line. When employees are supported in telling the truth about what they have witnessed or what they sense without fear of retaliation, leaders are able to make decisions based on ground truth. Not some made-for-TV watered-down version that has little to do with reality and much to do with ensuring we don’t come off as a Debbie Downer in our organization.
Truth is (pun intended), we can be truthful in a way that opens doors, enriches the relationship, and encourages the conversation to move forward in a meaningful way. One of my favorite quotes in this area comes courtesy of Edwin Friedman:
“In any situation, the person who can most accurately describe reality without laying blame will emerge as the leader, whether designated or not."
My hunch is that more of us would be willing to speak the truth and hear the truth if we believed it didn’t come at the cost of another person, including ourselves.
What prices are you paying for standing on the sidelines and withholding what you really think and feel?