Openness and honesty

I’ve been doing some coaching with a client recently. He is a potential leader in his business and he is unsure of how he is progressing.

One of the reasons he is unsure is because of the relationship he has with his manager. Neither of them appear to be capable of asking for and receiving feedback from each other. In our last session we talked about the benefit of asking questions such as;

How do you think I am doing?

What do you think I do well?

What do you think I could do better?

What do you think I need to do differently?

These are just a few examples, but it is surprising how many people are worried about asking these types of questions, and are even more concerned about what kind of answers they will get!

However, the advantages of asking such questions far outweigh the potential downside of the negative responses you may receive. Being open and honest with each other about your thoughts and feelings will lead to a greater level of trust and a stronger working relationship. 

Many years ago I used to sell double glazing and was paid on a commission only basis. I went through a period when I first started when I wasn’t selling anything and was concerned that I was going to get the sack. One thursday the MD came over to our office and held a meeting with us all. Results across the office were poor he said  and things needed to improve. He went on about how disappointed he was with us and told us he would be back in two weeks time. He said on that Thursday morning as we were about to get out of bed he wanted us to stop before we put our feet on the cold floor.

If we had sold two orders in the last 2 weeks he wanted us to get up, get dressed and make our way to work where he would be happy to see us. On the other hand if we hadn’t sold two orders in the previous 2 weeks he wanted us to get back in bed and have a lie in, as we no longer had a job.

In the next two days I sold 3 orders. Why? Because the uncertainty about my situaton had been removed. I knew exactly what was expected of me. I needed to sell a minimum of 2 orders in two weeks, simple. The message was very clear. very easy to understand and very easy to measure.

People like to know where they stand, they like to know what they need to do, this knowledge brings with it security and a clearly defined path to follow.

The guy I am working with needs to ask these questions to gain a clear picture of how well he is doing and where the gaps are in his performance and development. 

Equally his manager has a responsibility to provide this sort of feedback if he is going to develop his successor as well and as quickly as he can.

How open and honest are you with the people around you?

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