How engaged is your team? Do the team members come in every day, energized, committed and excited about the work you are doing together? Are they huddled in groups brainstorming and coming up with new ideas?
Or do you get the feeling they need a vitamin shot? Are they sitting around with a second cup of coffee waiting for you to direct them?
What’s the problem?
If your team engagement is low, or its creative juices have dried up, your team members may have decided they just can’t be candid with you.
Why would they think that?
Here are some chief reasons employees aren’t candid with their leader:
1. You suffer from one-way thinking.
Are you really open to other perspectives, or do all your meetings end with your ideas as the only sound ones? If you aren’t open to encouraging and appreciating the ideas of others, people will quickly detect this and shut down. After all – why contribute when it doesn’t ever go anywhere? You will eventually surround yourself with people who simply agree to your ideas, and lose out on the brain trust you have in the room.
2. You don’t do feedback well.
If you don’t genuinely listen for the “gold” in growth opportunities, you are missing out. Your team members may have tried to give you helpful criticism in the past, but if they were met with defensiveness or denial, they will back off and stop trying to work on a better working relationship with you.
3. You’re a self-perceived super hero.
You don’t allow others to contribute. Your mantra is, “I need to start delegating more,” or, “When I ask others to help with X, Y, or Z, I get sub-par work back. It’s easier to do it myself.” If this is you, you aren’t developing your people and taking advantage of their ability to contribute. This will absolutely kill motivation in others.
4. You don’t include them.
You don’t bring others along in the process. If you don’t provide regular and meaningful updates to developments in the company and team initiatives, you aren’t empowering your people to stretch their critical thinking skills about how this affects what they are doing. If you find yourself simply telling people what to do all the time, you are probably guilty of this.
5. You’re a perfectionist.
Do you tend to come across as critical or judgmental, or demand perfection the first time around (ask your spouse or significant other if you don’t know – he or she will tell you!)? If so, you aren’t leaving room for your team to consider failures as learning points, and creative ideas as possible innovation for your company. Your team will tend to play safe and play small, so that you get smaller, safer work that appears perfect. But you will lose out on the new and innovative ideas and work they might bring. Consider this: Life, work, and leading are not about you and everything else being perfect. It’s about all this being exceptional.
If you suspect that your team is holding back, not being genuine, have a conversation with them. Ask them what they need in order to be more candid – and be prepared to receive their feedback as your own point of learning.