I’ve never met anyone in a leadership position who likes rumors. Rumors create lots of productivity and morale killing conversations. Not public conversations mind you, but the whispered hallway conversations that stop suddenly with the appearance of a supervisor.
The people in leadership positions who dislike rumors the most are often the same ones who create the rumors to begin with. They create rumors by failing to communicate with their people.
The people who work in your organization have a vested interest in what’s happening within the organization. Lots of people in leadership positions tell me they share information on a “needs to know basis.” Those leaders fail to understand that their people NEED to know.
I understand that not all information can be shared within an organization. I also understand that far more information could be shared than is being shared in most organizations.
Too many people in leadership positions don’t understand their people’s need to know. They want to know how the company they work for is doing. They want as clear a look into their potential future as possible. They crave information. That craving causes people to invent information when none is provided. That “invented” information is delivered to others in the form of a rumor.
Authentic Leaders know that real information is the enemy of rumor. That’s why they provide as much information to their people as is legally and ethical possible.
The most current example of people needing to know is still the whole pandemic situation. The omicron variant is the current Covid 19 variant making the news. I’m not very knowledgeable in the Greek language but I believe “omicron” is Greek for “who the hell knows.”
But just because you may not have all the answers about what your organization is doing with regards to pandemic issues is no excuse to not provide your people with the answers you do have.
While leaders are storing up information to present all at once they are creating the rumors they so dislike. One very large retail operation recently asked their employees to submit their proof of vaccination by the end of the year. No other information was provided, only a request to provide the proof by a certain deadline. No reasons where given for a request that seemed to come out of the blue. No consequences were provided in the event you failed to comply.
You can imagine the rumors that started. This company has hundreds of thousands of employees, that’s a whole lot of rumors going around. It is by all measures a really good company. One that has taken good care of their people during the entire pandemic. But it’s an example of how even otherwise very effective leaders can forget the importance of effective communication.
I hold people who have the audacity to call themselves leaders to very high standards. One of those standards is continuous communication with the people they lead. It has never been easier to communicate with your people, even if they are spread out around the world. You can write a internal company blog. Create a weekly informational video. A simple Monday morning email update with a “what’s up” theme.
Many leaders tell me that they don’t have time to do those things. Some of those leaders don’t have time because they are too busy putting out the fires started by the rumors they helped create.
People in leadership positions make excuses for why they can’t communicate with their people. Authentic Leaders don’t make excuses, they make communication plans and they stick to them.