How Much Should You Tell Your Team?


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Communicating with your team is key to effective leadership but it can often be a balancing act between oversharing and appearing untrustworthy.

Article 3 Minutes
How Much Should You Tell Your Team?

Communication is an important part of any team. It ensures that projects are run as effectively as possible and that any problems are highlighted before they escalate. However, as a manager, it can be difficult to strike the perfect balance between oversharing and appearing untrustworthy.

Talking openly and frankly with colleagues can be a fantastic way to earn their respect, as well as fostering a culture of transparency and trust. On the other hand, a leader sharing information that they shouldn't be privy to can be unprofessional and could potentially cause unnecessary worry.

So how much should you tell your team?

Transparency is key for managers

Being a manager often means putting on a lot of hats. From project management to profit margins, a modern leader can be required to do a range of tasks but arguably the most important is being the go-to person for every member of your team. Communication is an integral part of developing a positive relationship between you and colleagues, but it also has a hand in how they feel as a group and how they feel about their employer.

With this in mind, some leaders get tempted to share everything and anything with their team. Not only can this get you into trouble with your boss but can lead to professionals worrying about something that doesn't concern them or spreading rumors based on their own imagination. The best way to get around this is to remember transparency is an integral part of a good team.

Individuals should only be told information that directly involves them, but when company-wide changes are happening, you need to show discretion even if there could be a significant impact to those on your team.

How not to cross the line

There may be matters that you're told about that involve other employees and it's important that you don't betray the trust placed in you. If you're placed in the situation where your team are asking you about something you're not in the position to divulge, don't lie about it, just tell them clearly that it's not ready to be announced yet. This allows you to keep private items to yourself without creating a divide between yourself and colleagues.

If employees become upset that you know information you aren't telling them, make it clear that it's not a slight on them. Explain that the secrecy is because the right solution, strategy or decision hasn't been arrived at yet and there's nothing you could tell them that wouldn't be potentially misleading.

Most people will understand this but if they don't, tell them you're not in the position to provide any further detail but if it's something they're really concerned about, they can speak to HR or higher-level management. This will help them see that you're not trying to be deceptive or leave them out of anything, but that you need to work within the constraints placed on you too.

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