A Simple Routine to Boost Openness
Openness can often lead to 'revelations', both positive and negative, whether about business performance and its future implications, or behaviors, culture and the impacts on people and performance.
These revelations, particularly if negative, can be insightful and liberating, yet also difficult and challenging to face. Leaders need good support mechanisms to help them navigate these matters successfully, alongside the passion, rigor and discipline to own what is happening and lead improvements.
Leaders need to disturb their own learning by paying attention to how they are using power and influence, and what the impact is on others. Regular, open feedback from those around them is important, so provide a support network to allow this.
Place genuine authority and power where ownership and empowerment is expected, to make it okay for people to routinely speak up and know they will actually be heard.
Start to 'check in'
One useful tool in creating openness and transparency in the workplace, and develop ownership and empowerment within teams, is to implement the following check-in system:1
- Create a slot during normal meetings, called 'check in' - usually at the start of a key meet or day together
- Treat it as a listening tool – as well as a speaking tool – laptops down, phones away, paying attention to each other and yourself
- 'Check in' on how every person is, how the working relationships are between everyone, and what each individual’s needs are
- Key questions include 'How am I doing?' and 'How are we doing?'
- Share as much or as little as you want - a few minutes each
- Do not accept “I’m fine” or “I’m ok” as answers - encourage people to genuinely stop and reflect on how they are, and how the group is as a whole
- If some don’t wish to share, that’s ok too – it will come in time
- If you want to, bookend the day or meeting with a shorter check-out covering 'how are we as we leave?', and 'what did we notice were our greatest strengths today as a group?'
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