Free to Be You & Me

“And you and me are free to be you and me”

We’re guessing that you have no idea where that quote came from or what it means.  So, go ahead and Google it.  We’ll wait.

Yes, it’s from the 70s.  And yes, it’s for kids.  But now, more than ever, it’s still highly relevant. Because don’t we all want to cut through the noise and just be ourselves?  At home, we let our guard down, kick off our shoes, relax and revel in the fact that we can (most of the time) say and do what we want without fear of recourse and be our best selves.

Of course, we’re not suggesting your teams walk through the office barefoot with a bad case of Tourette’s.  But we are suggesting that a “free to be you and me” workplace of sharing, conversation without boundaries, deep engagement and appreciation can positively impact both your employees and your company’s bottom line. All employees, no matter their role, want creativity, spontaneity, morality and a lack of prejudice.

Embrace the Transparent Workplace

Decide to practice open and transparent communication.  Demonstrate trust and confidence in your team members by actively sharing information across the organization, even if it’s significantly siloed. Arm your teams with information, such as corporate strategy, market data and customer feedback.  Do so in way that encourages questions and comments.  Be committed to open and consistent transparency.

Ditch “Us vs. Them”

At a financial services firm, the time was coming to buy a new software package. Which package to purchase? That was a management decision. Nobody thought to ask the opinion of the people who would use the new software. “Us vs. Them” division between employee and management lives on.  This destructive mentality can lead to interdepartmental friction.  Per a recent study, 86% of employees cite lack of collaboration for workplace failures.  We believe that an open-book management eliminates this division. There’s no “them” in open-book companies, only “us.”

Seek Truth

Be proactive and ask for truly open and honest feedback. According to Forbes: “There is a significant change that occurs when people ask for feedback. When you ask others for feedback, your attitude changes. In contrast, frequently when others give us unsolicited feedback, our defenses are automatically raised. We debate, we rationalize, we react and then we ultimately reject the feedback. The very act of asking others for feedback puts us in a better position to listen carefully to the feedback, ask clarifying questions, and then accept the remarks.”

So, make it clear throughout the organization that honesty in feedback is imperative.  Your teams should feel comfortable and not fear persecution for honest feedback, even if it’s harsh. But please don’t ask for feedback unless you are prepared to address it in some form.

Photo Cred: Dane Rude