It’s always great when research backs up what you intuitively know to be true!

Last week we heard about some research showing that the most important aspect that made a business a great place to work was honest and responsible conversations.

Frankly that’s exciting for a number of reasons, including:

Yet more evidence to challenge managers on the need for honesty

This is particularly challenging because the research showed honesty was required in all directions for a workplace to be rated highly and have good retention, so managers need to be as comfortable receiving those challenging comments as dishing them out.

This is a call to us all to be better at showing a bit of tough love and welcome the tough love that’s likely to come back at us.  The stories of managers being uncomfortable giving feedback are almost as prolific as the stories of staff who can’t tell their manager that things are not working as well as they could be.

Potential talent looking at your business wants to know that honesty is welcome

Not everyone is comfortable with honesty and seeking it from their next employer, but high-flyers who have grown up in a supportive work environment will expect it as the norm.  How can you attract the best talent if you cannot offer that same environment?

Some people need to know that they will be trusted to have honest conversations with their peers and manager.  Is that the case in your business?

Also, how much of your talent and potential for innovation is being wasted where people cannot have these great conversations?  There is a huge opportunity here to make things better – from engagement and retention to performance and results.

What can you do about it?

Creating a culture where feedback and honest conversations are welcome is a huge opportunity.  One of our clients is doing this with feedback workshops that cover both welcoming and responding to feedback and then giving effective feedback.

Another client is working on this by encouraging more regular team meetings, where managers are expected to ask “what is working well and what could be better?”

Another is introducing questions into their engagement survey on how welcome feedback and honest conversations are, then making sure this is broken down per manager.  Managers are then targeted on improving their engagement score on that particular question.

The shift towards fewer or no formal appraisal conversations is based on 2004 research showing that 4 in 10 people have an issue they feel they cannot raise with their manager. Recognising that formal appraisals were not the setting in which open and honest conversations felt natural, many firms are shifting to more frequent, less formal conversations – but is it working?  Or are 40% of your people still not speaking up?

The challenge is clear: how many people do you have in your business who are holding back from saying what they think? How many people have left your business out of frustration with their manager? And what will you do about it?