How an Organizational Culture of Secrets Can Hold You Back

How an Organizational Culture of Secrets Can Hold You Back
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

An Organizational Culture of Secrets
Most leaders know and fully accept that a trustworthy organization – the opposite of an organizational culture of secrets – welcomes, heeds and acts upon feedback while valuing open and honest communication. Many even incorporate the worthy concepts of open communication and integrity into their company values.  Unfortunately, employees report that far too many leaders only give lip service to open and truthful communications.

Why Organizational Secrets Are Bad
What goes on behind the scenes – on secretive phone calls, in the break room, or on instant messaging – has an impact.  If you have even one team member indulging in gossip, you have a culture problem – one that could undermine an entire team.  Teams with secrets are teams that cannot live up to their full potential.

When gossip is allowed, morale drops, employee engagement suffers and overall team performance decreases. And one team can infect another; the disease can spread so that the entire company culture becomes toxic and:

  • Prevents effective communication
  • Isolates co-workers
  • Can even result in legal action

An organizational culture of secrets can destroy work relationships or even careers. It is your job as leader to stop gossip in its tracks.

Three Steps to Create a More Open and Honest Workplace Culture
Here are three steps to take to create a more high performance corporate culture:

1.  Clean Up Your Own Act
Make sure you, as a leader, set the right example. Do not ever engage in a conversation about a team member without inviting them to join. You should not say anything or write anything that you would not want known by the entire team the next morning.

If you want a healthy culture at work, you need to model the way conversations are to be handled – directly and with empathy. Be willing to tell the truth even if it means having a difficult conversation. Begin to build the foundation of trust by consistently leading the way.

2.  Establish Guidelines With Your Team
Be clear about why you insist on a gossip-free team and that you will hold everyone accountable to that goal. When team members understand the negative consequences of enabling an organizational culture of secrets, they will be more supportive and help create the “rules” for engagement. Feedback should be given honestly and directly to the co-worker with the intention to improve behavior. These conversations should be frank but respectful, safe with no repercussions, and allow space and time for reflection.

3.  Agree Upon Steps For Change
Once feedback has been delivered and received, there should be a follow-up discussion about what changes are recommended to improve the situation. Both the giver and receiver should agree upon what steps should be taken. Often it requires both to work on their behavior.

A micro-managing boss, for example, will need to back off while the overly controlled team member should prove that they are fully capable of handling the job on their own. Both should be held accountable to ensure progress is being made.

The Bottom Line
Don’t let office gossip or behind-the-back conversations sabotage your organizational culture. See that your employees are free to give even uncomfortable feedback openly and with the promise of constructive action.

To learn more about how to improve your leadership communication skills, download The 8 Top Reasons Leaders Need 360 Feedback

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More