A Coaching Power Tool Created by B . K . Kulkarni
(Life Coach, INDIA)
How often have you heard “ People leave a job because of the manager not because of the company”?
It is true whether it’s a small establishment or a large corporation. One of the common complaints you hear from the disgruntled employee is “I do not trust my manager and he /or she is not Transparent!”
So what is Transparency? According to Oxford Dictionary,
Having Thoughts , feelings or motives that are easily perceived
Pretty powerful meaning especially with human emotions. It is like a open window as shown in Fig 1 . You get what you see . Empathy, right choice of words, sharing of information in a regular and timely manner and last but not the least, genuinely caring for the employees, are a few important characteristics of being transparent .
Quite opposite of it is, being opaque, meaning, not being transparent. When your manager is not transparent, you have no idea what he/she is thinking , what is happening in the team / with the performance of the team or the company and worst is, you do not know what is coming up!!!!. You cannot really trust such a manager and life becomes a challenge if you have to work with such a supervisor day in and day out. This manager style Fig 2 is like a closed window as in Fig 2.
Who do you think is the successful manager and who is struggling with bad team morale and high attrition in the above 2 scenarios?
In today’s global world, transparency between two organizations across the regions or continents also plays a significant role. Many a times, communication style and cultural sensitivity also plays an important role in establishing the transparency.
Case study 1: Company A & B are subsidiaries of a global corporation placed in two different continents. Even though both organizations have same corporate governance & ethical guidelines and quality processes, both the companies had major issues being transparent to each other .
Case Study 2: A Senior Manager who joined the organization from outside was never trusted by his/her direct reports. Manager does not share all the information and involves into internal affairs of people and many times with customers. A skip level meeting indicates that manager is also partial towards some of the employees.
In both cases, it leads to a very hostile environment, employee dissatisfaction, customer complaints about the quality of the product delivered (you can expect this with unmotivated employees). Last but not the least, it leads to high attrition.
Just imagine what a healthy vibrant work environment will be if the manager provides transparent work culture. If the manager is maintaining an open communication, sharing all the wins and losses (good news and bad news) employees will be highly motivated. Employees will help each other in the moment of need and will stay with the company for long term.
This is an inherent problem of most of the organizations. Problem could be simple human behavior, corporate culture, training and lastly communication style. At an organizational level, transparency is the “DNA” of the organization. It involves clear guidelines about information sharing, regular/quarterly and annual meetings etc. Top management openly share the market trends, financial status and future orders and wins & losses. This information coming from Top CEO, CFO level brings lot of transparency.
Training and coaching is an important element towards transparency.
All employees should be trained on ethical guidelines and information security policies. These trainings should be repeated annually and it’s important that employees sign a document as part of adherence to the policy. Companies will also mandate, based on job responsibilities , training in the area of Sexual Harassment & diversity. CEO should initiate annual employee feedback survey to get the feel at ground level.
People enter an organization at a lateral level, especially at senior positions. These managers come with their own baggage of their self-beliefs and work culture of previous organizations. Human resource department plays an important role in properly inducting lateral hired managers. Regular feedback at peer level & skip level feedback will give early indication on the working style of the manager. A delay in recognition of the manager style in terms of his transparency is directly linked to the morale of the tea This is where Mentoring and Coaching will play a significant role.
It is very important to self-retrospect on how transparent you are. Transparency at all levels, both personal and professional is the key to establishing coaching engagement. It is the yardstick you live by. The relationship between Coach and Coachee should be open and transparent so that the trust is established in the very first discovery session. Otherwise further sessions will not lead to the agreed goals.
In above case study 1, with more analysis, in much open conducive environment, it was found that it was not setting up clear written expectations on both sides. Proper training and few cultural mis – understanding were also the reason. Both sides blamed each other for not being transparent. When these discussions happened face to face in a more transparent & trustful environment both parties resolved the issues realizing their strengths and weaknesses and missing processes.
Case #2: The manager came with baggage from old set up and also some personal traits. Working with a Coach, the manager realized he had worked in a smaller organization where information was controlled. With further questioning the manager revealed that he was not confident of presenting to a with different cultures. Low self esteem in the manager due to low self confidence lead him to be non transparent .
A coach can work with a client(s) to shift this perspective by asking questions like :
- Is this situation(s) is helping? and what led to this
- How do you want things to change and how do you see the outcome
- How similar situation in the past has affected you & how it has been responded with
- How do you think your peers , bosses and team think of this situation
- One immediate thing he would like to do to improve his communication with team
These powerful questions along with some soft skill training will go a long way in changing the current situation .
Similar situations arise even in life coaching. Not being transparent in our behavior, actions and relationships clients will be carrying enormous amount of burden of lies and deception .
- What does Transparency mean to you?
- What does structure mean to you?
- What structures would you like to put so that communication is done swiftly and timely?
- How important is employee morale to you?
- How much self-trust do you have?
- How is the past guilt serving you?
Ref : Coaching Questions Author Tony Stoltzfus