Welcome to the Vital Integrities Blog

Don't Shoot The Messenger

When I ask business leaders to describe their biggest challenges, one frequently mentioned concern is "improving upward communication." Specifically, leaders lament that workers fail to report bad news to them until it's too late. Research bears out that complaint and reflects a rampant fear among employees of telling superiors bad news.

According to a survey by Sirota Survey Intelligence, 74 percent of managers say their organizations persuade workers to report bad news upward. However, more than one-third of employees believe that senior management actually discourages them from passing information up the chain of command, even--or especially--bad news. "This means a significant number of both managers and non-managers tend to feel their observations of problems such as faulty processes, missed financial numbers, and even a lack of compliance with standards and moral practices, may not reach the executive suites of their organizations," said Jeffrey Saltzman, Sirota's CEO.

"In some companies, a fear of retribution may be at work," adds Saltzman. Indeed. WorldCom board members who investigated the company's financial scandal found that employees who knew about wrongdoing were afraid to speak openly, because they feared losing their jobs or facing senior management's ridicule. That, despite the company's printed promise of an open culture in which "everyone should feel comfortable to speak his or her mind."

Improving requires creating an environment that promotes risk taking and encourages straight talk. It also necessitates living by the values you profess. Otherwise, when you ask for bad news and then avoid it, or reject those brave messengers who bring it to you, you encourage employees to remain silent.
Bookmark this post on del.icio.us

What do you think? Post a Comment
Vital Integrities Blog - Blogged