The Idea:  I recently spoke to an industry friend that shared with me that they felt isolated, apathetic, and frustrated because their department head was tone-deaf to the emotional needs of their team after almost two years of Covid. I asked, “have you shared your thoughts?” He wearily stated, “it just wouldn’t matter.”  I have had similar confidential discussions numerous times over the last six months. Most people are tired, worried, and looking for relief. How are you feeling, and is your culture open to honestly discussing how they are feeling?

According to the most recent survey by LinkedIn, 47% of working Americans said the pandemic has changed how they feel about their career, while 73% feel less fulfilled in their current jobs.  Yet, most are not transparent about how they are feeling. What are the roadblocks to transparency and honest discussions?

According to the American Psychological Association, only 52% of people believe their employer is open and upfront with them. When employees feel out of the loop, company loyalty is reduced. There is a huge decline in perceived team connection which can greatly hinder the group’s motivation

Studies have found that management transparency is the most significant predictor of employee happiness. Everyone has been going through a life-changing 20 months, and our motives have changed and evolved. If you do not care about the whole person, you are making a statement about your values.  Are you checking in with your team to explore how they are feeling and are you courageous in sharing your own experiences?

Ernst & Young released their 2021 EY Empathy in Business Survey.  I was not surprised by their findings:

  • 54% said they left a previous job because their boss wasn’t empathetic to their struggles at work.
  • 49% said they left because of a lack of empathy towards struggles in their personal lives.
  • 46% of employees felt their company’s efforts to be empathetic were dishonest and insincere.

Forced into self-reflection during Covid, many have questioned the value of their work and its meaning. The isolation of the pandemic has intensified the desire for authentic belonging and emotional connection to the team.

According to McKinsey, the top two reasons employees cited for leaving (or considering leaving) are that they didn’t feel their work was valued by the organization (54%) or that they lacked a sense of belonging at work (51%). Yet, they often don’t share these negative experiences with their boss.  But why?

  1. They fear the backlash of being open and honest when speaking up.
  2. They are apathetic because leadership has historically not addressed internal problems.
  3. They fear losing their internal influence, power, or position


Creating a transparent, open culture is an art form, and the leader almost always sets the benchmark for transparency.  If you want to experience a team exhibiting candor, there should never be a secret meeting after the meeting. All parties involved must be courageous enough to tactfully share what’s on their mind without behind-the-scenes side conversations.

In safe cultures, feedback isn’t top-down or ground up, it’s a fluid conversation between all levels of the organization. Everyone on the team has a responsibility to coach and offer feedback to all teammates.  Are you comfortable receiving feedback from someone three levels down? It’s time to encourage feedback from every associate, which means cultivating cultures that are psychologically safe.


PwC’s Trust in US Business Survey of August 2021 detailed that accountability, clear communications, and admitting to mistakes top the list for consumers and employees. And the biggest hindrance to trust is not taking in diverse stakeholder perspectives.  Trusting cultures value relationships first.

When leaders don’t invest in relationships – they must rely on control. Control is what fearful leaders call management.

We all value transparent communication and real-time feedback. Annual performance reviews are not enough. We need more “touchpoints” and coaching to refine objectives and priorities as they change.

The most holistic, healthy teams practice active listening, respectful candor, and empathy on every level. If you are not emotionally investing in the whole person, you may not be as trustworthy as you think.

How open and trustworthy is your team?