“I can always find someone
To say they sympathize.
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve.
But I don’t want a pretty face
To tell me pretty lies.
All I want is someone to believe.
Honesty is such a lonely word.”
~ Billy Joel
Billy Joel was right - honesty is a lonely word. The word honesty within a business context comes loaded with meaning and some hard questions for most people. How honest should someone be? Is it better to say the right thing, or the honest thing? In certain business areas such as sales or management, this discussion can become a minefield.
Corporate policies, cultural norms, modeled behavior, mere survival, career success, fear and our own set of values create a scenario of competing needs that are not easily or neatly answered about how honest one should be.
The absence of truth is equally frustrating for most people. Have you ever been in a situation where there is a performance issue and it doesn’t get dealt with? We often encounter stories of executives, managers and supervisors going to HR because they believe they need to terminate a poorly performing employee. During my thirty years in business, I would guess that fifty percent of the time, the employee in question is not aware of their performance issues because they have never been discussed or dealt with. Often, the leader is overwhelmed, inundated with more pressing business issues or simply lacks the skill and the will to have an effective performance conversation.
Whatever the motive of the leader for not dealing with the issue (omission or commission), the consequences are always the same: interference is created in the system. Interference can zap people’s energy and that leads to lower productivity, workarounds, cliques, turnover and absenteeism.
And then there is “confu-speak” where messages get buried in carefully crafted generic corporate speak. A lot of organizations communicate this way to their employees. Sometimes it’s difficult to understand exactly what is being said or not said. Worse, it creates a vacuum of information where people fill in the blanks with the worst-case scenario. That too injects interference into the system.
A great piece of wisdom I have learned during my years in the corporate world, is the importance and value of being honest. When honesty walks into the room possibility almost always follows. Honesty removes interference from the system and creates clarity, making it easier to make the right decisions. Honesty impacts people, relationships, projects, innovation, products and sales. It may surprise you, but you can always feel it happening.
Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author
Co-Founder of Juice Inc.
Vice President, Business Development
Business Development, Juice USA
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