Genuineness promotes sincere, honest, respectful and direct communication in an open and responsible way. It is a fundamental component in coaching and facilitative leadership practices as well as critical thinking, problem identification and problem resolution.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series

By Dianne Crampton

“How do you want me to fill out this communication and leadership style survey?  Like I am at home or at work?”

This is a question I often field when teaching coaching and facilitative leadership seminars.

My return question: “Is there a difference?”

Most often the answer is yes, with explanation.

Participants wanting to bring attention to work problems often fear repercussion.  They worry that honesty might anger managers. They worry about reactions from other employees. And they worry that candidness could get them fired. 

When teams cannot bring a work issue to light, problems are allowed to fester in the dark. Eventually, a stifled employee’s desire to perform quality work lessens. The success of the entire organization suffers.

A work culture that fails to accept or encourage the recognition of problems and errors so that processes can be improved will turn out products and services of inconsistent quality, thereby wasting time and money.

The waste occurs when products are recalled or returned.  It also occurs when an excellent employee becomes discouraged or leaves your organization for a new opportunity – one that lines up better with the employee’s integrity

Genuineness promotes sincere, honest, respectful and direct communication in an open and responsible way.  It is a fundamental component in coaching and facilitative leadership practices as well as critical thinking, problem identification and problem resolution.

When Genuineness is measurable within an organization, team members can gauge how sincere an organization is in detecting and solving problems. The more real – genuine – an organization is perceived to be by employees, the sooner leadership will hear about problems, allowing root causes to be corrected.  Outcomes associated with Genuineness include caring about quality production, excellence, honesty and integrity.

Obstacles that impede genuineness stem from both internal and external sources.

Internal obstacles arise from fear of repercussion.  When employees feel it is not safe to bring observations forward, they remain silent. Fear causes team members to stifle their observations, to hide errors, to avoid sharing their knowledge, to form “coffee clutches” to express dissatisfaction about others.

External obstacles arise from poorly defined work procedures and practices that fail to empower team members with the skills to solve problems at the lowest level they occur. 

  Here is a summary of team behaviors and practices that damage Genuineness:

  • Employees who discuss their concerns and complaints against team members with fellow employees who have no power to solve the problem resulting in “Us VS Them” frictions
  • Not sharing observations, facts or hunches during problem solving because of real or perceived fear of repercussion
  • Failing to celebrate the discovery of problems when they are brought to light and subsequently resolved
  • Competitive practices that penalize people for making mistakes

What behaviors and practices build genuineness?

  • Respect for self and others
  • Integrity
  • Celebrating that which is real and authentic
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skill development
  • Confrontation and feedback skill development
  • Facilitation and coaching skill development
  • Mentoring
  • Involving employees who surface problems in the solution of the problem
  • Going to where the problem is and solving it there

The questions to ask in order to know whether a culture of Genuineness thrives in your organization are these: Is it safe to make a mistake in your organization?  Is it safe to have a problem? Who is responsible for solving problems that arise?  How is problem solving viewed in your organization?

Work cultures that nurture genuineness allow an organization to know when something is not right, and through problem-solving take corrective action. 

Of the six TIGERS collaborative team values, Genuineness speaks to bringing work problems and production errors to light so problems can be solved before products and services are released into the marketplace.  It is also a quality each person brings to the team and must be celebrated and rewarded in the work culture to thrive. 

Getting team members involved at the lowest level in solving problems empowers them to build quality and caring into their work assignments.  It helps them understand how important their work is to the company and how they make a difference.