The most straightforward piece I’ve read on candor comes from Jack Welch’s book, Winning. In Chapter Two, he refers to candor as, “the biggest dirty little secret in business,” but more specifically as people not expressing themselves in a straightforward way and withholding their comments and criticism; usually in an effort to avoid conflict.
Welch summarizes the positive effects of candor on an organization as:
- Create better outcomes: get more people in the conversation which leads to more minds and more ideas.
- Speed things up using the process: surface, debate, improve, decide.
- Cut costs: replace boring meetings, pointless updates, and presentations with real conversations about the core issues.
Why aren’t we candid: we’re taught not to be at a young age. Sensitive or awkward issues are softened or avoided. Our parents scolded us for pointing out something that we thought was obvious but “wasn’t a nice thing to point out.” But the main reason we’re not candid is simple, it’s easier not to be.
So how do we reverse the trend and our learned childhood behaviours to create candor in our companies? Reward the behaviours you’d like to see more of and lead by example, no matter where you are in the hierarchy (although it is easier the higher up you are).
What steps do you take within your organization to promote and reward candor?