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Practice 7: Talk Straight and Be Transparent

19 January, 2016 - 10:47

There is considerable pressure on leaders to waffle and evade or just not be accessible. The belief is that the rest of the organization just does not understand the complexities and nuances of the information held at the senior-most level. There is a grain of truth to this belief; however, leaders need to understand that straight talk is essential for creating organizational trust. Recent research demonstrates that positive transparency on the part of leaders can greatly enhance followers’ trust disposition. 1

Interestingly, Microsoft Corporation has a relatively high level of organizational trust. For example, 9 out of 10 employees at Microsoft Netherlands said they could “ask management any reasonable questions and get a straight answer.” This is particularly noteworthy since the organizational unit recently underwent a downsizing experience. 2 The same can be said for labor unions, which is not easy to do in this day of declining union strength. Clearly, straight talk and transparency are keys to enhancing organizational trust in all parts of the organization.

In summary, organizational trust is essential to be change capable. This requires both trustworthy leaders and trusting followers. Figure 4.1 contains a graphic that summarizes these first two dimensions of organizational capacity for change.

Figure 4.1 The Second Dimension of Organizational Capacity for Change: Trusting Followers