Great Place to Work – People are not Mushrooms

In our continuing series on Great Places to Work, Strategic Partner, Diane Janovsky, reports in on a key issue that exists in Great Companies… Great Communications. Diane takes a new and innovative look at the idea that we just can’t keep people in the dark… like mushrooms! Enjoy this week’s Power Idea.

People Are Not Mushrooms

When a company first starts out, communicating effectively is easier because the initial team is usually a manageable size. However, as an organization grows, it becomes more and more difficult to share information and provide clarity on expectations to a larger and larger employee population. In the rush to meet day-to-day demands, it’s easy for leaders to overlook the need for intentional communication. This is a huge risk because excellent communication is the foundation of an environment of fairness and trust, all hallmarks of a great place to work. People are not mushrooms – they do not thrive in the dark. Use the following “Three T’s” to help create a culture of open communication that supports higher employee engagement, lower turnover, greater innovation and superior financial results.

The Three T’s of Communication

  1. TRANSPARENCY starts with leaders being visible and accessible. This is always important, but especially during times of challenge. What managers say must be honest and truthful, whether the message is positive or negative. Trust is created through consistent and open sharing with all stakeholders, not just a limited few. This is particularly true for Millennials who have grown up with access to virtually unlimited information, and now they expect the same from their workplace. Knowledge is power, not when it is hoarded, but when it is shared and leveraged in the organization.
  2. TWO-WAY focuses on the fact that communication should not just be a one-way flow from leadership to employees. While sharing top-down information is valuable, actively encouraging feedback and listening to the organization creates buy-in and engagement when people believe their voices are being heard. Input must be sought from all levels so that employees know that they matter, both individually and collectively. How leadership treats contrary or negative feedback speaks volumes about the culture of the company. If it is truly welcomed and thoughtfully considered, without retribution to the contributor, then people will feel comfortable in expressing themselves in the future. This pays dividends by providing different perspectives that may help mitigate the risks of unanticipated consequences or result in benefits through innovative thinking.
  3. TIMELY means thinking ahead about what people need to know and when they need to know it, which improves organization effectiveness, especially in a team-based structure. For better or for worse, people cannot read the minds of other people, so leaders must consciously challenge themselves and others to ensure they are sharing upcoming plans and providing direction with enough notice for employees or team members to respond. Most importantly, a tough message must not be put off because it only makes matters worse. People will make up stories to fill the void, so it’s better to share what you can, sooner rather than later.
  4. Do you suspect that your people feel like they are being left in the dark? Contact us at for more information on assessing and improving your communication processes and results.