Managing Employee Relationships: Sharing Information and Promoting UnderstandingPosted on October 20, 2013

Vicki Noel What are the barriers to doing this? Throughout our lives we have heard the phrase “information is power”.  It is true.  Unfortunately, some leaders misinterpret this saying to mean that a strong leader must withhold information to keep tabs on their power.  Unfortunately, this practice of “hide and seek the information” consumes a significant amount of time and energy on the part of the leader.  It doesn’t allow for the collective ideas and contributions of the workforce and thus less than stellar results.  And lastly, this practice does not build trust between leaders and those they serve. Why is it important to do anyway? Information is power.  Successful organizations have figured out that people need information in order to perform at their potential.  Sharing information is also a competency that demonstrates that a leader trusts their workforce, and is worthy of reciprocity of that trust.  A trustworthy leader who is honored by their followers is less likely to experience the insecurities that some have thus creating the desire to hoard information.  A leader who is committed to inclusion attempts to create opportunities for question & answer forums and feedback from those they serve.  Trustworthy leaders who value their followers know that those they serve need information to be successful.  If a leader wants to be perceived as trustworthy they must figure out effective ways to share information.  One factor of effective information sharing is delivering it in a way that promotes understanding. How can you do it?
  1. Connect your message to the “action” and the “why”.  When sharing information, make sure to explain what you want people to do with the information and more importantly…why.  Making information actionable promotes understanding because the message clearly explains what you as a leader expects others to do as a result of the information.  Your employees have to manage a huge amount of information from emails, order forms, data bases.  Help them cut through to what is most important by being specific.  Engaged employees want to know the why behind what they are doing.  They want to know that what they are doing has meaning.  “Because I said so” didn’t inspire us to engage when we were children, and certainly less so as adults.  Promote understanding of the purpose of the request by taking the time to explain the “why”.
  2. Translate your message.  Take the time to “know your audience” and translate your message from the specialized terms and abbreviations that often develop within a profession.  I am not suggesting to “dumb down” a message.  This approach will be instantly perceived as insulting and condescending.  Rather, if you want to be understood think of the viewpoint of your receiver…what their level of knowledge at the start is and what you need them to know.  Use everyday terms and avoid using abbreviations.
  3. Be transparent.  Leaders need to share information early and often…even when they don’t have all of the answers.   Put yourself in the “hot seat” at rounding meetings and answer any questions you are asked to the best of your ability.  When you “don’t know” admit it.  When there are things you cannot yet share, explain why.
What are some additional strategies you use to promote understanding while sharing important information? Log on and join the conversation at .  We learn best from each other’s experiences.    
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