Choose Honesty

At the end of the day, what employees want most from their manager is honesty. And if we expect honesty from our team, well, we should practice what we preach.

Sometimes, managers struggle with telling the real story, worried about what might happen if they disclose too much information. Well, here's the thing. You can choose to keep everything close to the vest and let your team create narratives about what they're experiencing, OR you can be open and let them know what's really going on. The way I look at it is this: the facts are the facts, no matter how you spin them.

Early on, I used to take a more reserved approach to management. Then one day, I found myself spending more time deliberating about how to say the "right" thing vs. getting to the point and taking action. Yeah, silly.

Since then, I've found freedom in doing my best to leave nothing unsaid. It was uncomfortable at first, but every chance I got, I practiced. I soon learned that honesty inspires honesty. These days, I'm a big believer in that. Sometimes, my team comes to me with things that I can't believe they're sharing, but I'm so glad they did.

Here's an example: In a 1-1, an employee once told me they took an interview elsewhere and why they did. Barrel is their first job, and they were curious to hear how other agencies operate. We went on to talk about how they could become more connected to their peers and learn from the community. Note: They're still here! And continue to be a valuable contributor to the team.

When you put it all out there, sure, folks may still interpret information in different ways, but at least they're working with all of the facts. You can work with them to clarify without worrying about what version of the story you told or beating around the bush. Phew, trust me - it feels good.