Are you being fair with your managers? Are you sharing critical information with them in a timely manner? Are you developing performance standards for them and the company and then not sharing those standards with them? If you answered, “Yes, Yes, and No” that’s great. But stop and really think about your answers. You’d be surprised at how many business owners and managers aren’t being fair and are not sharing critical information with their own managers — and don’t realize it.
I started working with a client recently who wanted me to facilitate his company’s strategic plan update session. They’d been through this process several times before but this year the owner thought it might be useful to have a consultant facilitate the process. For some reason, the management team’s performance had stalled in the past year. As soon as we started this year’s process, I understood why they’d stalled. No one knew the plan. When I started the session, I simply asked the entire team, “To get an idea of what you’re working towards as a company, what is your company’s vision?”
I was met with the proverbial deer-caught-in-the-headlights look from the entire team (except the two managers who were rifling through their files trying to find a copy of the vision). The owner of the company grunted as he looked at his team in frustration.
So I asked him to share his company’s vision. He did share a vision, but it wasn’t the one he’d provided me that was developed in the prior year’s planning session. When I said that I’d seen a different vision, he clarified that he’d revised the vision a few months ago to make it more attainable. However, he’d not yet released it to the management team; he wanted to wait for this planning session to formally release it. The owner had been waiting for an event in order to share critical company information with his senior team. He was waiting to share.
As we continued, I was amazed to learn that the company hadn’t stalled in performance more than it had. When I asked the managers to provide updates on the corporate goals they’d been working on over the prior year, I again was presented with looks of fear, several variations of confusing goals, and sadly, comments such as “I’ve never seen those before.”
The owner had not been fair with his managers. He had not taken time to ensure that each of them understood clearly what the company was working towards and specifically what goals the company was working on to move forward. He’d obviously not spent time throughout the year working with his team on the strategic plan’s implementation — yet he somehow thought it would get done. He’d also apparently changed some goals and not shared the revised goals with everyone — yet he expected everyone to perform and complete the same plan. That’s not fair.
If you think this scenario sounds extreme, it happens more often that you may believe. Your organization’s lack of sharing and being fair may not be as prevalent as what I presented here, but it may be happening. To test your organization’s fairness and willingness to share, all you need to do is ask five to ten managers at random what the company’s vision is and what three company goals are. Their ability to quickly and accurately provide a response is telling — and it should tell you if you need to be more fair and share more.