Take a look at comments posted on workplace blogs or on social media sites, and it won’t be long before you find an employee complaining that they’re often left out of the loop regarding business decisions.
These employees complain that their boss doesn’t keep them informed of strategic business decisions, what’s in the pipeline for the next year or even how their work is part of the bigger picture. Senior leaders are even worse, they contend.
It’s a frustration Mike Figliuolo has heard before, and he has a simple response: “That’s crap.”
Figliuolo, managing director of thoughtLEADERSLLC, says that employees who complain that they don’t know what is going on within their company simply aren’t trying hard enough.
“If anything, it’s easier than ever,” he says. “Just look at your company’s organizational chart and find someone about two levels above you. Send that person an email and ask them to send you their department’s latest strategic plan.”
With that information, you’ll be able to see what’s going on and then be able to ask additional questions to determine how you or your department are affected by pending plans or possibly involved in a new initiative.
“It’s just pure laziness to sit back and say, ‘I’m not being included,’” he says. ““If you can’t take the initiative then sure, you’re going to sit at the kid’s table and eat chicken nuggets.”
An inclusive culture
Zappos is a company known for being transparent with workers. Employees not only receive detailed information about the company’s performance, but are encouraged to share information about the company. CEO Tony Hsieh often shares company news via Twitter and Facebook, even announcing the layoff of 124 workers in 2008 via Twitter.
Some employees may conclude that since they don’t work for a company like Zappos, they’re forever doomed to sit at the kid’s table because their company’s culture is different. But Figliuolo argues that many employees simply have never “reached out” to try and become better informed, and “they just expect management to spoon feed them.”
But if you’re an employee ready to become a strategic influence at your company, then Figliuolo suggests:
Experts also advise that managers need to make it easier for employees to ask questions, and that the organization will benefit if they provide answers.
Paul Spiegelman, chief culture officer at Stericycle and founder and former CEO of BerylHealth, often writes on company culture, and says that managers and organizations can benefit by keeping workers more informed about the company’s success.
“You’ll earn the trust of your employees if you report on your company’s financial performance regularly throughout the year. Town hall meetings are an effective medium for communicating this information, so that staffers can ask questions. If the company is not performing as well as expected, own up to it, and let employees know how they can help impact the situation,” he says.
Harvey Deutschendorf, an emotional intelligence expert, says that if employees “are kept in the dark about what’s going on, they will make up their own version and it won’t be a positive one.”
That means if there is something negative going on, such as profits slipping and sales taking a hit from a new competitor, then employees need to be told, he contends. “Not disclosing will only breed mistrust, suspicions and fear,” he says.
In addition, it’s important that employees learn to understand through transparency that tough times don’t last, and there can be a brighter future, he says.
“Keeping employees constantly informed and involved in long-term thinking and planning for the future helps lift spirits and prevents knee-jerk decisions that could come back later to haunt you,” he says.
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