Honest leaders create better teams, honestly

By AIM Team
June 17, 2017

Only 15 percent of workers said their current companies were doing a “very good” job fostering honesty at the office, according to a survey conducted by 15Five. In the workplace, some leaders struggle with balancing politeness and honesty. What impact do honest leaders have on their team and its productivity?

What Does Honesty Mean for Different Generations?

15Five found that your age can inform what honesty means to you. Older managers sometimes viewed younger employees’ honesty as “too brash and opinionated.” However, millennial employees favor a more open communication style and honest leaders. 31 percent of employees cited a lack of transparency as the biggest roadblock to communication with their manager.

Leadership and Honesty

Some team leaders and managers find it difficult to be honest with their employees, especially when it comes to telling them their work isn’t up to snuff. As a result, productivity slows, and you’re caught in a vicious cycle with a poor performer.

According to leadership experts James Kouzes and Barry Posner, “Honesty is essential to a leader’s legitimacy, credibility and ability to develop trust with followers.” When you give your employee an honest assessment of their performance, they have the opportunity to make improvements.

Honesty Means You Have Confidence in Your Team

An honest assessment of an employee’s performance, whether good or bad, demonstrates that the manager is confident that they have the ability to improve. It also gives the employee the opportunity to respond to feedback. In turn, this creates trust within the team, which is vital to ensuring quality teamwork. Doing the opposite will most likely create distrust, which is never good in any work environment.

Honesty Means Respect

Along with demonstrating confidence in a team, being honest means that a manager genuinely cares about their team’s well being. No one really wants to feel like an underachiever, so why not help them fight that? By shying away from telling employees that their work isn’t up to snuff, a manager could end up hurting morale. The team might wonder why they’re not getting constructive feedback.

Honesty Prevents Crises

Above all, being honest with employees can help prevent any major disasters from occurring. Don’t let one poor performer undo the work of the rest of the team. This can cause a rift among co-workers, which will definitely put a damper on collaboration and productivity.

On top of that, if there seems to be no history/documentation that shows poor performance, it can difficult to dismiss an employee who is outright just a poor fit for the company.

Honesty can go a long way to ensuring better productivity and team success. Candid conversations about employee performance is the best bet. In the end, those who genuinely want to do better will welcome constructive feedback.