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Published on April 1, 2019

How to Boost Team Performance with Transparent Communication

How to Boost Team Performance with Transparent Communication

As many founder and team leaders would attest, clear communication––coupled with genuine transparency––is key to inspiring employees and, ultimately, growing as a company.

But in a truly collaborative environment that consists of powerful, capable hires, transparency is important for more than just inspiration. It’s critical for giving your people what they need to effectively do their job. If you don’t share data, plans, or concerns with your employees, you’ll hamstring them. Instead, you need to equip your people to make the best possible decisions for their area of responsibility.

But this needs to work the other way around, too; employees themselves need to be transparent about where they’re at in terms of progress, what resources they need to get their job done, and the challenges they’re facing or foresee facing in completing new projects. When that happens, everyone in your company has a chance to thrive.

That said, fostering and sustaining a culture in which this kind of two-way communication and trust exists is difficult, and it gets harder the bigger you grow. It requires you as a company leader to constantly prioritize and reinforce these values.

If this is something you’re struggling with right now, here are some steps we took to improve this at our company, Honey, that might be helpful for you:

1. Hire Someone Who Is Solely Focused on Internal Communication

This is what it looks like to truly prioritize strong internal communication: you have to invest in it.

That’s what we did at Honey, at least. We hired someone to set the cadence of internal discourse, fine-tune the messaging from leadership to ensure we’re conveying things the right way, and to facilitate back-and-forth between teams. Especially as we crossed the 100-employee threshold, we realized this was something we simply weren’t equipped to do on our own––not while also doing the work of COO, CEO, CTO, etc.

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The truth is, you have to treat communication as its own department or vertical. That’s because it really is as crucial to your company’s success as your product, or your marketing, or your sales.

If people on your team lack essential understanding around the reasoning behind certain decisions or company direction, or if they don’t have the information they need to do their job––if you or your teammates ever enter meetings surprised by what’s being discussed––you won’t be as efficient as you could be.

Don’t let that happen. Approach communication with careful and purposeful orchestration.

2. Be Honest and Sincere with Your Employees

Of course, you can’t just outsource communication and transparency and hope it improves or sustains. You have to do your part as a company leader.

That means being honest and sincere with your people in your messaging and in your conversations with them.

As we all know, communication hinges upon trust. Your people will only be 100% honest with you regarding their needs and challenges if you are 100% honest with them. They will only care about your company and the integrity of your communicative philosophy if you genuinely seem to care.

That means you should share news and updates across departments. Share updates from the executive suite with your engineers. When you have a potentially exciting conversation with an investor or advisor, tell your people. Engage with them if it’s appropriate to do so.  

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Communication is very much a two-way street.

But it’s also true that sometimes it’s hard to be 100% transparent with employees. If you’re in the midst of an acquisition, for example, you may not be legally able to to.

But employees will give you the benefit of the doubt in these situations if you’re sincere with them––if they know that honesty is a core value of the company.

3. Establish the Right Flow During All-Company Meetings

To get a bit more in-the-weeds, how you relay information and conduct conversation is very important. But you can’t just say that communication is important. You must also set out to communicate effectively.

The most likely way you’ll do that is during meetings.

It’s important, then, that you hold and conduct meetings the right way. Things like whether everyone in the room is comfortable, whether your delivery is engaging, the lengths of meetings––we find people can generally only focus for 90 minutes at a time––all matter.

In fact, your attention to detail as a leader will go a long way in determining how effective you are at facilitating internal communication. In our company, even small adjustments like asking presenters to abide by certain templates and formats in their presentation slides went a long way.

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You can say communication is important all you want, but unless you’re communicating correctly, it won’t matter.

4. Allow Q&A Time with Your Employees

Aside from all-hands meetings, you also need to schedule time specifically for question-and-answer sessions.

These could look like one-on-one meetings (if you’re a smaller team) or forum-oriented meetups where you as a leader don’t have any specific agenda other than fielding and answering questions from your team.

If you’re not already doing this, try it. You’ll be surprised how much your employees want to utilize their voice––how many concerns or questions they want addressed.

5. Do 360-Degree Reviews

Finally, to truly encourage and sustain a culture of transparency, you must submit yourself to the same expectations of reflection and appraisal as your employees.

That means conducting 360-degree reviews.

Most people don’t enjoy receiving constructive feedback. That’s as true of executives as it is of managers and engineers.

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We get defensive and fold inward because we feel like we’re being attacked. But designing feedback sessions as two-way conversations helps ensure the person sitting on the other side of the table understands that the purpose of providing feedback is to help the whole company improve and become more effective.

It also proves to your people that you really do value transparency and that your culture really does value equality.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, improving your internal communicative processes is something of an ongoing project which you can always work to improve. But prioritizing communication and transparency––and investing in it to prove it is important to you––is still crucial for inspiring your employees, helping them improve, and elevating your company’s overall effectiveness. It encourages growth and asks everyone to “level up” to be the best teammate they can be.

It’s a critical component, in other words, of your overall strategy. Don’t neglect it.

More Resources to Boost Team Performance

Featured photo credit: Romain V via unsplash.com

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Glen Allison

Glen is the Chief Operating Officer at Honey. He focuses on a culture of excellence and shares entrepreneurial tips.

How to Boost Team Performance with Transparent Communication

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

How to Get “I Can’t Do It” Out of Your Vocabulary

When someone says, “I can’t do it” . . . I say to myself, “What do you mean you can’t do it?” Maybe you don’t want to do it, but saying you “can’t” do it is a completely different story.

With the right mindset, positive attitude, and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, the only thing that is holding you back is yourself.

Can’t is a terrible word and it has to be taken out of your vocabulary.

By saying you can’t do something, you’re already doubting yourself, submitting to defeat, and you’re making that barrier around your life tighter.

So today, right now, we are going to remove this word for good.

From now on there is nothing we can’t do.

“Attitude is Tattoo”

Your attitude is everything; it’s your reason, your why and how, your facial expression, emotions, body language, and potentially the end result. How you approach an opportunity, and the result of it, is solely based on you — not your boss or your co-worker or friend.

If you enter a business meeting with a sour attitude, that negative energy can spread like wildfire. People can also feel it — maybe even taste it. This is not an impression you want to leave.

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Now imagine you enter a business meeting with a positive attitude, that whatever happens in here is going to be your result, in your control, not someone else’s. Of course, we can’t always win, but even if the outcome is negative, your attitude and perception can turn it into a positive. The question is: can you do it?

Of course you can, because there is nothing in this world you can’t do.

It’s much better to be known for your positive attitude — your poise, your energy, the reason why things go so well because you are able to maintain such character. A negative attitude is easy. It’s easy to complain, it’s easy to be mad, and it’s even easier to do nothing to change it.

When I say your “attitude is tattoo”, it sounds permanent. Tattoos can be removed, but that’s not the point. Your attitude is like a tattoo because you wear it. People can see it and sometimes, they will judge you on it. If you maintain a negative attitude, then it is permanent until you change it.

Change your attitude and I guarantee the results change as well.

Believe You Can Do It

Do you know why most people say “can’t” and doubt themselves before trying anything?

It’s our lack of self-confidence and fear on many different levels. The one thing we have to purge from ourselves is fear — fear of bad results, fear of change, fear of denial, fear of loss, the fear that makes us worry and lose sleep. Worrying is the same as going outside with an umbrella, waiting for rain to hit it. Stop worrying and move on.

Confidence is fragile: It builds up slowly, but can shatter like glass. Project your confidence and energy into believing in yourself. This is a very important and groundbreaking step — one that is usually the hardest to take. Start telling yourself you can do something, anything, and you will do it the best to your ability. Remove doubt, remove fear, and stick with positive energy.

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Embrace Failure

Do not fear failure. Do not run away from it. Face it, learn from it, grow, and take action. Just remember: You will never know success if you have never failed.

Your confidence will bolster after embracing these facts. You will be immune to demoralizing results, and instead you will find ways to fix it, improve upon it, and make it better than before. You will learn to never say “can’t,” and will realize how many more opportunities you can create by removing that one word.

Don’t let one simple and ugly word plague your confidence. You’re better and stronger than that.

Start Making the Change

But to actually start the process of change is very challenging.

Why is that?

Fear? Time? Don’t know how — or where — to start?

It’s hard because what we’re doing is unlearning what we know. We are used to doing things a certain way, and chances are we’ve been doing them for years.

So here are some ways that I avoid using the word “can’t”, and actually take the steps to put forth the change that I wish to see. I hope you can incorporate these methods into your life.

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Write down What You Want to Change

Write it on post-its, notecards, whatever makes you comfortable — something you will always see. I usually write mine on post-its and put them all over the wall behind my monitor so I always see them.

Tell a Friend and Talk About It

Discussing your goals, what you want to change, is very effective when you say it out loud and tell another person other than yourself. It’s almost like saying, hey, I bet I can do it — watch me.

When you fulfill that goal and tell your friend, it feels rewarding and will motivate you to do it again in a different aspect. Who knows? Maybe your friend adopts the same mindset as you.

Stop Yourself from Saying the Forbidden Word

Sometimes,I can’t control myself in public when I’m with friends, so I have to be careful with the words I use so I don’t embarrass or insult anyone.

Treat the word “can’t” as the worst word you can possibly use. Stop yourself from saying it, mid-sentence if you must, and turn your whole perspective around — you can do it, you will do it, and nothing is impossible!

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

You think this change will be overnight? No way. This is a practice. Something you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life from now until forever.

As I said earlier, you are unlearning what you know. You know how easy it is to say you can’t do something, so by unlearning this easy practice, you’re self-disciplining yourself to live without boundaries.

Practice this everyday, a little at a time, and before you know it, the word can’t will not be part of your language.

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Do Anything That Can Relieve Your Uncertainty

When I catch myself saying I can’t do something or I don’t know something, looking up information on that action or subject, doing research, educating yourself, relieves that uncertainty.

Sometimes, we think we can’t do something because the whole idea of it seems too large. We skip the small steps in our head and only focus on the end.

Before you say you can’t do something, rewind and slow down a little bit. Focus on what the first step is, then the next. Take it a step at a time, and before you know it you will have done something you previously thought you couldn’t do.

Final Thoughts

You know what you must do. The first step is right now. Once you begin this habit, and really start noticing some change, you’ll realize the door to opportunity is everywhere.

The funny thing is: Those doors have always been there. The evil word that we no longer use put a veil over our eyes because that’s how powerful that word is.

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Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

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