"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" — George Bernard Shaw
Do your employees have a sense of what is going on in your organization?
Recently, a manager told me that in her company, her boss never let her or the team know what he learned from his boss. He didn't "cascade-down" the information coming from the top. The chief executive, however, thought that everything he shared with this leader was being also shared with his staff. So, he was surprised to find out that lower-level employees were not aware of some of the company's policies or news.
This lack of transparency seems to be a common problem in organizations today. Yet, it is increasingly important for leaders to keep their staffs informed. People can't achieve the company's goals if they don't know what they are. They can't get excited about the vision or mission if they haven't been told what it is. They have difficulty planning for the future, an instead, they can seem confused, lost, and misguided when they don't have accurate information. Further, they can feel resentful and angry when they are the last to know or worse — never told what is going on. This makes them feel unimportant and not valued in the firm. In fact, when transparency is low, employees view the organization and leaders with more skepticism and suspicion, leading to a breakdown of trust.
So, what can companies do to achieve transparency of information?
Do not assume that messages shared from the top leader to the next level down are being shared all the way down to the lowest level employee. Make sure to follow up with employees at all levels to see where there may be communication gaps.