Openess + Honesty = Strong Relationships

isolationI read a piece recently about the transparent culture at Square which I thought was interesting. There was also a great post by Brad Feld a couple of days ago about the value of being ‘vulnerable.’

I think about this allot. Maybe because I’m not great at being open and I have realized over time that this can leave you feeling pretty isolated.

The foundation of any relationship is openness and honesty. This is true in our personal lives but also at work. To be open you have to be prepared to share both the good and the bad. You have to show those vulnerabilities.

It wasn’t long ago that at work that you called your boss ‘Mr’ or ‘Mrs’ and you were having to knock on a closed office door to receive your orders.

But thankfully things have moved on. I think Google were actually one of the real trailblazers. The more you share with those that work for you the better your relationship will be. And businesses are driven by relationships and teams not by individuals.

To have formal hierarchies and strict control of who is allowed to know what might  very well lead to people doing what they are told to do. But I would argue that they will often be doing this in isolation.

What’s the worst that could happen? Confidential information might get into the wrong hands. People might respect you less for revealing your hopes and fears. I would argue that information is empowering and that this far outweighs any (usually overblown) consequences of it getting into the wrong hands. I also think people will respect and relate to you more if you share more with them. It tightens the bond between people and that can only be a good thing.

To be more open and transparent with people I think is the only way to build a really strong team and a really strong culture. In this way individuals can be more than the sum of their parts. People can feel like they are trusted, empowered and are really part of something way beyond their job role.

The further benefit is that if a manager, or indeed anyone, is open and honest then it is likely that people will be the same in return. This is so important and will make you a better and stronger person or business to get this honest feedback.

Often a manager can be isolated and doesn’t get this honest feedback. They are then missing out on the most important feedback of all – something that can often  drive real change and improvements in management style and business strategy. It can also make you a more tuned in person and more aware of how people feel about you and the actions you take.

Openness and honesty are essential to strong relationships in our private lives and this is something I try to work on almost every day. But it can also translate into the business world. There are certainly signs that this is happening and I think businesses and managers will be better for it.