The Great Candour Robbery


By Joe Moore

Where has all the candour gone?

Most of us like being surrounded by people who agree with us and tell us how bright we are and how easy we are to get along with. It’s easy to get confused when this happens.

Are people agreeing with your strategy because they think it is a valuable strategy – or because you’re the boss? You may find yourself isolated from useful information as those around you neglect to let you know what their experience and research tells, and what they feel.

We may pay twice when we are robbed of candour.

The price we pay when those around us filter their important conversations with us – choosing harmony over speaking out. Important issues go unresolved.

We pay again because those same employees are likely to not hold each other accountable for each other’s behaviour and performance.

But the person who is willing to look us in the eye as the supervisor or manager and say “No” to a poor business idea or to poor behaviour is worth a thousand who say “Yes” or nothing. Who at work is regularly exposed to your day-to-day behaviour and lets you know about things you really don’t want to hear – and need to hear?

What – no-one? Perhaps as the decision-maker you are being robbed of the candid information you need to have in order to make different decisions about your behaviour and performance.

Two suggestions for increasing open and honest conversations about ideas, behaviour and performance in your work place.

Re-read the story about the Princess and the Pea, to check if your response to constructive criticism is too thin-skinned…and actively discourages any response other than flattery.

Secondly, set the expectation, and go looking for evidence that people meet your expectation, about giving and taking feedback with you and with each other on ideas, behaviour and performance. Ask your direct reports for their explicit suggestions on how you could go about things differently.

When you allow your team to rob you and each other of candour, you also allow yourself to be robbed of trust and accountability.

You don’t expect people to be disagreeable – expect them to disagree.

Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore & Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact him here

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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