Executive CareerAs the leader of your company, it is important to create a culture that fosters honesty. It may seem like honesty should be lower priority compared to profits, but as we have seen from numerous examples, strategies solely focused on profits can result in illegal and immoral company practices. The good news is that there are statistics that prove an honest company culture results in not only a “happy” workplace, but a more profitable company.

One of the most compelling statistics that supports this argument is a 2010 study by the Corporate Executive Board. This study “found that companies that encouraged honest feedback among its staff, and that rated highly in the area of open communication, delivered a 10-year total shareholder return that was 270 percent more than other companies—7.9 percent compared to 2.1 percent.”

Need more proof before you decide to jump on the honesty bandwagon? A recent survey, conducted by Fierce, Inc., found that 99 percent of professionals preferred a workplace where co-workers discuss issues truthfully. By encouraging employees to tell the truth, potential issues were identified early on, and executives were armed with the information needed to make the best decisions for each organizational initiative.

How can executives create a work environment where employees are encouraged to participate in a “healthy debate” and to take ownership of their failures and successes? By using the following 4 strategies when interacting with employees and encouraging other executives and managers in your company to follow your lead.

1. Be Current, But Be Brief. Promoting honesty should not be an opportunity for employees to unload emotional baggage. Rather, this should be a quick and productive meeting where employees can discuss current issues as they arise. If a more confrontational conversation arises, employees should be told to “calmly and clearly state the issue at hand and its impact, and give no more than three examples of when it occurred.”

2. Don’t Sugarcoat the Issue. You should consistently strive to be direct with employees and request that they do this with each other as well. This will ensure a clear “action plan” for solving the problems at hand during each meeting. Also, be sure to go over the next steps to double check all meeting attendees are on the same page.

3. Keep Positives and Negatives Separate. It may be difficult, but keeping the positive and negative issues apart will help to eliminate confusion and keep your conversations transparent. Designate separate opportunities for mentioning accomplishments and positive results. Then, focus on negative issues that need to be addressed during a different part of the meeting.

4. Use a Social Networking Approach. This approach will help allow your organization to be more transparent. The social networking approach can be described as “a candid, running dialogue between managers, employees and coworkers.”

Promoting honesty in your organization is a simple, yet effective way to advance your executive career by supporting effective communication. Employees will see “higher employee morale, improved productivity, better retention and increased bottom-line success,” which will in turn result in your successful executive career.

This post was adapted by Julia Salem, of the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), from a post Halley Bock originally contributed to Software Advice, an organization that provides reviews of software for HR professionals. To read the entire post, visit: "Why Honesty Is the Secret Ingredient of Successful Organizations."

About the Association of Executive Search Consultants
The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) is the worldwide professional association for the retained executive search and leadership consulting industry. The AESC promotes the highest professional standards in retained executive search and leadership consulting through its industry recognized Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines. The AESC also serves to broaden public understanding of the retained executive search and leadership consulting process and acts as an advocate for the interests of its member firms.
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