I think we’ll all admit it’s refreshing and even energizing to be in a meeting when all the cards are on the table and there is a good honest discussion of the relevant facts. No walking on eggshells, no concern for the sacred cows, no wondering whether you are going to step on a corporate land mine.
You see transparency is the key. Of course that is easier said than done, so here are three techniques you can use to promote transparency in your future meetings.
Number One – Be explicit about your purpose. As soon as you enter the meeting room (preferably before), write the purpose of the meeting on the white board. Go around the room quickly and make sure everyone can buy into that purpose. Make sure that purpose ties into the direction of the organization. It is much easier for meeting attendees to put aside their parochial concerns if they are reminded of the big picture.
Number Two – Sniff out the hidden agenda people. Some folks want more power, some want less responsibility, others are trying to position their subordinates for promotion and still more may be positioning themselves for advancement. Transparency requires that these agendas are acknowledged and made public. Just because someone has a hidden agenda doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means it’s hidden. Discuss them openly. Make a point to politely put them aside and stay focused on the meeting’s purpose. This will be difficult at first, but after a while, defenses will drop and folks will be more comfortable acknowledging their agendas.
Number Three – Reward the behavioral changes. Increasing transparency in an organization won’t happen over night. In fact, you’ll take three steps forward and then two steps back, so take the extra time to you show appreciation to those supporting the greater cause. Reward those who exhibit selfless behaviors with praise or perhaps additional responsibility. Look for every opportunity to reinforce the cultural attribute of transparency.
So how does this save money and time? Simple. When transparency is the norm, there is only one conversation. No longer will there be winks and nods in meetings. No longer will you have to walk down the hall after a meeting to explain to a junior executive what just happened or what the boss really meant. Time and money will be spent on the overarching objectives of the enterprise, not on the hidden agenda of the leadership.