The father of modern quality, W. Edwards Deming was fond of saying “In God we trust, all others bring data”. And his proclamation was widely reported. What was less reported was another proclamation of his: “Data will provide you with approximately 3% of what you really need to know”.
So how do you discover the remaining 97%? My guess is that your employees have possession of a large chunk of this information.
The Corporate Executive Board seem to agree. They recently reported, and these are their words,
“Nearly half of executive teams lack information they need to manage effectively because employees withhold vital input out of fear the information will reflect poorly on them. Companies that break down two key barriers to honest feedback can deliver peer-beating shareholder returns by a substantial margin.”
And they have the data to prove it. According to their decade long research, organizations who embrace open door, open communications policies outperform (in terms of shareholder returns) those who don’t by 7.9% versus 2.1%.
Another lesson here for leaders: If you don’t listen to your employees, they will find someone who will…think Facebook, Twitter and other social media.