Lesson Two From an Employee Engagement Speaker: Some Things Should Never be Radical!

It should not be radical to be either honest or transparent

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Employee engagement thrives with honesty and transparency. I trust we don’t have to make the business case for honesty and transparency in the workplace but I am sure someone has set about calculating the return on honesty (ROH) or an even better Dilbert-like acronym, Return on Transparency (ROT).

In recent years, I have increasingly encountered articles and blog posts about radical honesty and radical transparency. Ryan Smith and Golnaz Tabibnia (what a wonderful looking and sounding name) near the end of 2012 wrote a Harvard Business blog post: Why Radical Transparency Is Good Business. They claim radical transparency improves business performance in terms of focus, engagement, and growing and recruiting talent. I guess there already  is a ROT in our workplace. I don’t quibble with their premise or plea for transparency I just hope that we don’t see it as being so radical.

When did it ever become RADICAL to be honest or transparent at work. (Yikes, I think I am starting to almost write like Tom Peters and his tendency to try and shout through his writing with a plethora of BOLD UPPER CASE letters in a variety of colors.

Of course, maybe we do need to shout: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE RADICAL TO BE HONEST OR TRANSPARENT. I yearn for the sound of respectful voices not shouting but rather being honest and transparent in our workplace.

One last thing, please do not ever approach me and ask, “Can I be really honest with you right now?”  I am going to say no. Not because I don’t want you to be honest but because it makes me believe that you have not been honest with me before. Just go ahead all the time and be honest, really! Trust me, you probably will be real more than radical.

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Engage along with me, the best is yet to be.


David Zinger is an expert  global employee engagement speaker and consultant who brings the topic down to earth while striving to enliven the pyramid of employee engagement to help leaders, managers, and organizations increase engagement and results while also building relationships.

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