How Uncertainty is Killing Your Team’s Productivity, Innovation, and Trust

Reading Time: 
3 Min

Written by: Tobias Günther

Imagine you didn’t know what was happening — in your own company! As founders and leaders, this might be an unusual, unfamiliar feeling.

We’re used to having all (or at least) most information, almost always. We know all the numbers. We are in constant contact with different people and departments. We have a wonderful birds-eye view of the team and the business - which is the exact opposite of what many employees have, by default.

Such a state of uncertainty is a nasty issue for teams. And one that is a major source of stress.

This isn’t surprising: if we don’t know what’s coming, our biology makes us careful and vigilant. This is not a state where innovative ideas are born; or where we have open conversations; or where we make our best decisions…

And it’s not a state that people can bear for long, because it’s exhausting and fuel for conflicts.

In other words: a team in such a state is doomed!

The Antidote

Luckily, the antidote to uncertainty is pretty obvious: it’s transparency. And it’s more important than one might think: a study of more than 40,000 employees showed that transparency was the number one contributor to their happiness!

And as if “employee happiness” wasn’t enough, there are even more benefits you can expect when you practice transparency:

  1. Commitment: employees can only be committed to an organization when they know what they’re committing themselves to.
  2. Innovation: people can only develop great ideas if they know the full picture.
  3. Trust: we can only trust each other fully when we know that there are no secrets between us.

Becoming More Transparent

It’s pretty obvious that our teams need more of this precious good called transparency.
And there’s only one type of person who’s able to deliver it: that’s us — founders, leaders, and managers!

We’re the ones who possess all of that information - and we need to start sharing it more openly.

This process might feel difficult at first, for a couple of reasons. First, because our default instinct might be to “protect” our people. We think that too much information might overwhelm them; especially when some of that information is difficult to process or a bit worrisome (after all, not all news is always good news).

The solution, here, is to remember that we’re dealing with grown adults! We don’t have to (and should not) treat them like children. If we do, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see “childish” behavior (e.g. a lack of responsibility) in other areas!

There’s a second reason why practicing transparency might be awkward at first: it’s because we’re simply not used to leading this way!

The solution, here, is to be persistent: it takes time and practice to change our default mode - into one where choosing transparency and sharing information is our standard way of operating. It takes time to get used to this. Both for us as leaders AND for our teams.

The Benefits Are Worth It

Transparency has the power to transform a team - from a bunch of disconnected, unmotivated “worker bees” to a real, committed, and highly motivated team. Keep this in mind when you go on this journey!

In my next essays, we will go deeper into this topic and explore…

  1. how to get transparency right (because there are good and bad ways to implement it)
  2. several concrete ways to bring it into your team

Take care,

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