This issue focuses on employees who only give half the story to their bosses.

Most often this happens because an employee doesn’t realize how much or how little his (her) boss already knows. When relating something to the boss, then, he leaves out pertinent information on the incorrect assumption that his boss is already aware of it. It’s also not uncommon for employees to intentionally leave out the occasional embarrassing detail when relaying information to their superiors – particularly when things aren’t going quite right.

Whatever the reason, when you’re trying to understand or resolve a situation, not having all the relevant information creates significant challenges. All it can take is one small missing detail to lead you to a wrong conclusion and a subsequently devastating decision. So what can you do to ensure that you get the whole story from your employees? It all has to do with your management style.

The first and most critical thing to look at is how you typically respond when things go wrong, or when employees make mistakes. Do you focus on assigning blame, or do you focus on fixing things? Do you chew your employee out or do you use it as a coaching opportunity? Do you get visibly angry, or do you maintain a positive demeanor? The truth is, all it takes is one negative response on your part to inhibit any future candidness from your employees. One scolding, one blow-up, one sarcastic lash, and it becomes very, very difficult to get employees’ trust back. Sure, it might feel good to vent your frustration, but the cost of letting your emotions stand in place of positive coaching skills is much too high.

You also have to have a history of listening to your employees. If they’re used to you rushing them, interrupting them or ignoring them, then you’ve sent the message that brevity is more important to you than completeness.

There’s no quick fix for achieving meaningful, complete two-way communication. You can’t just demand it of your employees. It takes time,
skill, trust and mutual respect. The payoff in results and employee engagement, however, can’t be overstated.

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