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Transparency: Why You Shouldn’t Share Too Much With Clients or Your Team

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Transparency: Why You Shouldn't Share Too Much With Clients or Your Team

My phone rang, “Karin I’ve just been told there’s going to be a restructure and significant downsizing. My team may or not be impacted. I have NO additional information, just that it will be months before all the dust settles.”

Now, if you’ve been following my writing for any period of time you know I’m the poster child for  transparency. I believe strongly in telling the truth, avoiding spin, and never making crap up.

But frankly the above scenario is a clear example of TMI. Too Much Information.

It’s too much information, precisely because there was not enough information. All my client received was enough insight to cause stress, uncertainty and disruption.

I see examples of pre-mature disclosure wreaking havoc all the time.

Yes. Transparency goes a long way in building trust.

At the same time, over-disclosure can send your team off the deep-end worrying about all kinds of issues for which they have no control.

If you’re like most managers there are times you didn’t shared enough and your team made crap up, and there are times you said too much and your team freaked out.

Questions to Consider When Deciding How Much To Communicate

Here are a few important questions to consider when determining how much to communicate.

  • Have I been told the information is proprietary? As long as nothing unethical is going on, when your boss asks you not share, don’t share. If you don’t understand why the information is sensitive, ask. Even those who seem to appreciate your bringing them in to the inner circle, will wonder if they can trust you with sensitive information moving forward.
  • What is my motive for sharing this information? If it’s to assuage your guilt or to have someone to commiserate in your stress you’re probably getting ready to share too much.
  • Does my team need this information to make informed decisions?

If you’re team is going down a path that this new information will derail, it’s important to share what you can or to slow them down.

  • Will having this information make it easier more difficult for the team to do their work effectively? One of your biggest roles as a manager is to remove roadblocks and grease the skids for success, that includes sharing the right amount of information to support the team in doing their work without creating unnecessary distractions.
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