Team Empowerment - Sharing Information and Trust
Whenever we share information with someone, there is an implied agreement of trust. We trust that the person will handle the information responsibly. Additionally, when we share information, particularly that of a sensitive nature, a powerful message is sent to the recipient. This unspoken message tells the person that you value them and trust them to act responsibly
Conversely, when we refuse to share sensitive information, we frequently send the opposite message ... that you cannot be trusted. This severely hampers the working relationship, and, ultimately, opportunities for team building and work improvement. So the sharing of information conveys a powerful message as we continue to build relationships on our journey to empowerment,and at the core of this message is trust.
The systems of work that we have all learned are deeply embedded in our thinking, and ultimately become strong drivers of our behavior at work. In the old system, we learned that information about the organization and its systems is held tightly at the various levels of management, then parceled out on a "need to know" basis. In an empowered workplace, information is shared openly so that it flows naturally to the areas where it is needed most.
Obviously, there is some information that must be held closely until it can be released, but much of what has been controlled in the past is information that can and should be shared with team members. Financial information discussing the health of the organization, for example, is rarely discussed, although most of this information can be readily found in the organization's annual report to stockholders. Breaking down this information to the business unit, department, or work group becomes meaningful to team members when they can connect how their daily activity contributes to these results, then act in new ways to initiate improvement. Moving an organization to a culture of empowerment can be "jump started" immediately by sharing such information.
The purpose of this discussion was to highlight the importance of information sharing, then focus on what your people need to know to be most effective. As you begin to share this information, you will unleash a process that will build trust and, ultimately, stronger and more productive working relationships. If a leader is willing to share the power that information represents, people hear - more clearly than any words can express - that this leader is reducing the barriers and including people into the circle of influence and involvement.