Adapted from “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Management” by Alan Murray, published by Harper Business.
There are no silver bullets in the field of management. But insisting on candor comes as close to being an all-purpose problem-solver as any idea yet encountered. There are many different terms for it – transparency, integrity, honesty, full-disclosure, facing reality – but whatever you call it, it appears to be at the core of all great organizations.
The reason is that organizations, like people, have an endless ability to weave self-serving stories about themselves. And while such myth-making may be critical to a person’s, or an organization’s, survival, motivation and self-esteem, …show more content…
There are many reasons why the flow of information gets stunted in an organization. One widespread problem is the difficulty of “speaking truth to power.” When speaking to their bosses, most people inevitably color the message – softening bad news, or spinning it in a way more that’s more likely to please the person in power. That can cause problems to go unaddressed.
Another problem is the tendency of managers to hoard information as a source of power. If they have it, and others don’t, they can use that to justify their existence, or wield it selectively to achieve their own goals.
Sunk costs are yet another reason why people hinder the flow of information. If they’ve invested heavily in a project, they may be reluctant to pass on information showing that project has problems, or is failing.
To overcome these very natural human tendencies, managers must insist on candor at all times. They must reach out and solicit