Truth to power is hard. In any organization, it’s difficult to tell the boss the truth when it’s something he clearly doesn’t want to hear. As the leader, you have to be aware of this if you want to continue to get better. You create the environment for your staff, and if all they are doing is agreeing with you, look inward. What are you doing to make sure your staff is comfortable telling you the truth? If you don’t seek the truth, you really aren’t interested in getting better.
Tell your staff that they have to tell you something outside of the box, something they know you are going to disagree with. Something that maybe makes them uncomfortable to bring up. I used to tell my staff to go home and come back the next day with something they didn’t think we were doing well. Tell me something I won’t like. I wanted them to start thinking about stuff that could really make us better, even if it made us uncomfortable. Bring something to the table that I am not going to like hearing, and let’s talk about it.
Now the key is when you ask your staff to do this, you have to be willing to hear it. Even if you disagree it or makes you uncomfortable. If you shut them down or dismiss what they are saying, you are making it clear you don’t want to hear stuff that you don’t like. You aren’t seeking the truth.
The environment you create as the leader is really what drives your ability to improve. Whether you realize it or not, it’s likely that your staff is a little uncomfortable telling you stuff that you may disagree with. You are the boss, you are in charge, you make the decisions. They want to agree with you. They want to make you happy.
Make them tell you something you won’t like. Get them thinking about what will make you better, not what you might want to hear.