At a Tribunal set up to investigate allegations surrounding a whistleblower within the Garda Siochana – the Irish police force – the Chairman, Mr. Justice Peter Charleton last week said: “An awful lot of witnesses have not been telling me the truth.” He later added: “I think the truth is the most important value that exists in life.” Quite a statement from somebody who spends most of his working life in courtrooms where ‘truth’ probably suffers more than the actual victims present.
If he is right, and without doubt he is, then truth, by default, has to be the most important value in our work and business Organizations too.
But is this realistic? Is management not about the skillful handling of information and the sharing of it with all kinds of different interested parties – customers, owners, governments, suppliers, and employees? Can management in companies honestly claim that these five groups are always given the ‘truth’?
Is it realistic to even believe that giving them the truth is wise, is feasible?
And yet, how can we expect the loyalty and commitment of our employees, our people, if we are not telling them the truth…. or that they don’t believe we are?
What would happen if we did, if we just told our people the truth all the time?
Why is it that Management can share the most critical information in great detail with outsiders – advisers, accountants etc., and can’t share the same information with their own people?
If we feel we can’t share critical information with our own people which has major consequences for their lives, how can we expect their trust or their loyalty?
What would it do, on the other hand, if we did trust people enough to share all critical information with them?
Actually I know what would happen!
It would create relationships of trust and “we are all in this together” that would radically change and improve the working environment.
I know this because I saw exactly that happen when Management in a Company with whom I was working were accused of misleading the people and their Trade Union about the performance and financial situation in the company.
They responded by not only “opening the books” but in sending the Trade Union representatives on accountancy courses so that they would be able to understand and stand by the validity of the information they were being given.
Until we are able to trust our own people in this way, we cannot be surprised if we hear from them what Justice Charleton told the tribunal: “I am not an idiot. I have to be satisfied that you are telling (us) the truth.”
When we do, it makes everything so much simpler and better.
And, we will be faithful to “the most important value that exists in life”…and to ourselves.