Genuineness solutionsYou’ve heard it before. Open communication is one of the main conditions for a high performance workplace culture.

Open communication builds Genuineness, the third of the six TIGERS® principles required for a high performance work groups.  The other five TIGERS principles are trust, interdependence, empathy, risk resolution and success. 

If you aren’t embracing a culture of candor and genuineness, you may be missing out on employee accountability, efficient problem-solving and effective decision-making. As a result, employee performance, engagement and your revenue could be under performing.

What is genuineness?

Sometimes viewed as overtly blunt or even rude, genuineness can actually be a great asset for organizations when properly executed. When employees are given the opportunity to speak candidly, honestly and respectfully with one another without fear of repercussion,employees are able to identify problems and work together toward realistic solutions.

To make genuineness successful, leaders need systems that promote genuineness. Examples are critical thinking and problem-solving that encourage diverse insights and perspectives within the critical thinking and problem-solving designs. And, managers who are skilled at effectively facilitating problem-solving understand that there is a time and place to offer up dissenting opinions and ideas. The result provides clear guidelines and norms for team members to follow.

Agile team development strategies for creating a culture of candor and genuineness

With the right team development strategies, ground rules and group norms leaders create work environment of trust and respect. Following are three strategies to promote genuineness and candor in the workplace.

Assess your work culture foundation.

A strong team starts with a strong, positive behavior foundation. Unless you know exactly where your team members stand with their experience of work group behavior, it is nearly impossible to build a better work culture. You will also not know how to leverage your work group’s strengths to improve genuineness.  Team culture behavior assessment, therefore, is the first step to gain the strategic information needed to transform an adequate group of employees into an exceptional one.

One reason that the TIGERS Workforce Behavioral Profile is worth investigating for initial workforce behavior assessment is that each assessment comes with three surveys for the same team. The first survey assess where your team members currently stand in the areas of trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success while offering behavior insights that improve those principles that require attention.

Take the information you receive and deliver the proper training and development initiatives and then six months to a year, assess the same group again.  Compare the results and also track key indicators within your company bottom line to assess cost savings and productivity improvements.  Along with targeted behavior improvement strategies and two follow-up surveys to track improvement, executives are able to work with their managers and  team members to refine genuineness and create a work environment that attracts and retains top talent.

Put in face-to-face time.

The ease in which leaders and team members communicate face-to-face separates an excellent work culture from one that is not. This strategy includes offering town halls and other face-to-face forums in which leaders and team members can openly communicate with one another. It also includes opportunities for small-group discussions and focus groups.

For example, National Institutes of Health Director, Francis Collins keeps an open channel of communication with the leaders of nearly thirty institutes and centers, meeting nearly every week to discuss successes and problems. According to Collins, “I try to surround myself with people who are incredibly bright and who are empowered to speak the truth about anything we’re doing, things that we’re forgetting and things that we might be proposing that are going to turn out badly.” As Director, Collins established a culture that demands this level of performance from senior leaders.

But what about supervisors and mid-managers? Gallup research suggests most managers find communication to be the hardest part of their jobs, which could be leading to high levels of employee dissatisfaction.  For this reason, with small-group discussions, team members typically feel more comfortable and are more likely to ask questions and share their honest opinions. This is opposed to large forums where many feel too intimidated to speak up. Focus groups, as well as individual interviews, are also valuable tools for leaders to track progress and receive honest feedback from team members in an intimate setting.

Lead by example to improve Genuineness

A culture of candor and genuineness cannot thrive unless team members come from a place of respect, trust and mutual empathy. If team members do not trust one another or do not feel respected by their peers, then any candid feedback will likely come across as rude, hurtful and unproductive.

But when the culture already thrives in the areas of trust and respect, then managers are better able to view candid feedback for what it is intended to be: beneficial and productive. Once trust and respect are already in place, the best way to promote genuineness is for leaders to demonstrate how to effectively accept candid feedback.

Then when employee feedback and suggestions result in business cost savings or productivity improvements, recognize the employee.  To improve Genuineness, recognition paves the way for improving workplace culture. Likewise, leaders should demonstrate that candid employee feedback is not a reflection or a criticism of themselves as a person, but rather constructive feedback for one area of the employee’s work performance. When leaders do feel defensive, then they can implement the expectation of not responding to challenging feedback for 24 hours in order to give time to analyze and reflect on the comments. When managers see that genuineness is an effective tool for improving workplace performance, then they will be better able to respond to other employees as well.

A workplace culture that demonstrates candor and genuineness is valuable for organizations. If the workplace culture isn’t already healthy in the areas of trust and respect, then genuineness can come across in ways that promote defensiveness. Feedback and important insights will not be held to be valuable or productive.

Before implementing team building strategies to improve genuineness and candid employee insights, it’s best to first assess your foundation and identify where your team members stand in the areas of trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success. Once you identify your areas of strength as well as your opportunities for improvement, then you can implement strategies that improve genuineness while measuring improvement over time in your bottom line and team dynamics. Additional strategies include offering plenty of face-to-face time and leading by example. Genuineness can prove to be valuable for your organization, as long as your team is healthy to start.

Care to dig deeper into this conversation?

We found the following articles and resources to be helpful in adding to the conversation:

Copyright, TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

About TIGERS Success Series, Inc.

TIGERS® Success Series provides a comprehensive, multi-pronged and robust system for improving both your work environment and profitability.

We specialize in training your managers in group facilitation methods that build workforce cooperation and high performance team dynamics. Scaled to grow as your organization and leadership performance grows, our proprietary Team Behavior Profile and  Management training workshops are based on the six principles we have found to be the right mix to make this happen.

The TIGERS 6 Principles are Trust, Interdependence, Genuineness, Empathy, Risk and Success. Born from our many years of business, psychology, and educational group dynamic research, and subsequent four years of independent evaluation, we instill and sustain behaviors that improve work group performance and talent retention for measurable ROI.

For more information or to request a presentation to your group or association,  visit