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  • How transparent is too transparent?

    Posted by Lisa Sweigard on August 23, 2022 at 6:59 pm

    Being in middle management is sometimes tough. You hope you are empowered to make decisions on behalf of your team….to utilize your leadership skills to run your team that fits the business needs while also considering the career satisfaction of your individual teammates. With that said, I recently encountered a situation that I made a decision that made good business sense and also helped to retain a fantastic teammate (and helped her feel excited about her role again). We’ve been operating under this change for the last 4 months. Just recently I was told to undo it with no context. I responded back with metrics, pros and cons and was yet again to undo it with no context. I plan on asking the obvious questions during my next meeting with my leader ….but when I communicate this to my teammate that we have to go back to doing what we were doing when she dreaded her job….how transparent can I be on what transpired? I want to be supportive of my management team, (although I completely disagree) but want to be supportive and advocate for my teammate. Thoughts?

    Michelle Harris replied 1 year, 8 months ago 2 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Michelle Harris

    August 27, 2022 at 12:28 pm
    Level 04

    Hi Lisa! Thank you for asking for help on this one! Being honest and transparent as a middle manager can sometimes feel like you’re walking a tightrope!

    I have a question for you that might help us answer your question. Was your leadership aware of the change when you made it? Or did they recently become aware? It may or may not make a difference based on the magnitude of the change…

  • Lisa Sweigard

    August 29, 2022 at 1:53 pm
    Level 02

    They weren’t made aware of the change initially….but midway through, after being able to show the improvement the change had made, I communicated what was changed, why it was changed, and how the change positively impacted the business AND the teammate.

    In the scope of what we do….the change that I implemented wasn’t a huge change and definitely didn’t seem like it warranted being taken for a higher approval.

    Looking forward to your feedback!

    • Michelle Harris

      September 1, 2022 at 8:10 am
      Level 04

      Hi Lisa! First of all, I want to say that I’m sorry that your leadership isn’t being more transparent with you. It can put you in a tough situation as someone in middle management.

      Here’s how I would want a leader on my team to handle this situation…

      Transparency is always important with your team. While I don’t believe there’s such a thing as too much transparency, you do need to balance your response with respect for your leaders.

      With transparency, you tell your people the truth – and when you don’t know, you tell them you don’t know. When you’re asked to specifically not disclose something, you say you’re not able to disclose the information.

      When you tell your team member that you need to change her position back to what it was before, you can tell her that you received the guidance from your superiors, but you’re not sure yet the reasoning behind the change. That’s the truth. Be direct but empathetic to her feelings. Mention that you’re disappointed in the decision, and advise her that you’re going to continue to try to understand the reasoning for the change and look to identify what opportunities are available to modify her responsibilities (if that’s what you plan to do).

      I think this is all you really can do given that (1) it’s all you know about the situation and (2) until your leadership is prepared to discuss their actions with you and open up discussion, you can’t really override the direction you’ve been given by them.

      Hope this helps! Happy to continue to engage on this if it doesn’t answer your question or you need further advice!!

      Good luck!!

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