Collaborative Candor

gear-organizational-effectivenessEffective organizations exhibit candor and courage. Associates speak their minds up and down the organization. It is expected, encouraged, required. There is no risk in doing so. There is risk in not speaking one’s mind. There is no hiding. It is always issue-oriented. Employees are expected to “speak for” something, not “about” something. They are encouraged to take a position, answer the question, say “if it were I, I’d do this.” Beware of “careerism.” Careerism is the tendency of associates to “pull their punches” for fear that a candid response will adversely affect their careers. This instinct is not apparent in healthy organizations that reward associates for saying what they think in open forum. As Winston Churchill observed: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it’s the quality which guarantees all others.”

Collaborative Candor is all about effective time management. Think meetings. Arguably, meetings consume the most time and money in organizations. Time is not on your side. As with energy, you either have it or you don’t. So, don’t waste time. Beware of “hall-way ” meetings”: “Do you have time for a quick question?” Answer, “No,” or somebody’s monkey is now on your back. The derivative benefit of candor is short meetings. There are three kinds of meetings: command (military), consultative (best for business), and consensus (public sector). It is the responsibility of whoever calls the meeting to declare what kind of meeting it is on the front side. Command decisions are unilateral: “I’m doing this. I thought you should know.” Don’t have meetings for command decisions; rather, send an email. Consultative decisions sound like this: “I’ve asked you to take this meeting to give me your input on a decision that I am going to make.” Go around the table once, ask clarifying questions, thank everyone for his or her time, and end the meeting. Consensus decisions take forever and are misunderstood. “Consensus” means: “it’s not something I would do but I can support it.” Avoid consensus meetings whenever you can.


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