Have you ever wondered whether information is 'so' important that by letting other people know would be so detrimental to your self or your company? There is an art with senior management, especially those with share-holders to answer to. It's all about 'keeping shtum'.
What usually happens is human. Our brains cannot contain information without passing it on. We'd forget it if we didn't. It's psychological. You have to hear the words come out of your own mouth in order for you to retain it. Bizarre to think about. We have to let it out to keep it in. But until we have put it in to our own words, we can't be sure that we have understood it and know what to do with it.
Directors can do this with each other, and can therefore be quite good at keeping shtum. Yet directors talk to more people than just themselves. They have to talk to, at the very least, senior management. Successful directors communicate with the entire company. But what happens next is a demonstration of ego. Taking on the role of director, knowing something that others do not, we would have to communicate it. It's almost as if knowledge was like a powerful gas - try to retain too much of it, add too much to the container, we'd, it, would explode!
There are ways of communicating what we know. Consciously and sub-consciously. Unfortunately for us humans, we can't do the one, without the other. It's in the way we look, the way we write, in the way we act and the way we say things.
My message to you could be: "I value you as a member of the team." Consciously, I know this is the message I should be giving to you. Sub-consciously I'm leaking what psychologists call 'Tells'. A quick look away during the moment as I'm saying this to you, a slight tremor in the voice, the amount of emphasis I put on certain words could give it all away. I'm not telling the truth. I don't value you. I don't recognise a team.
Psychologist and Author Peter Collett (of recent Big Brother fame as their resident psychologist), details in his book 'The Book of Tells' those tells that even the most respected figures give away. George W, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair. Political figure heads that must communicate to large audiences (to us all) and yet keep some important truths to themselves. They can't.
So how does this affect us in the business place. Naturally, if we believe we are bad communicators, we try not to communicate. We hide. If we believe we are good communicators, we stand on metaphorical soap boxes. In-between, we blend, we find our click, a social niche, and remain. We share our truths and untruths to those we know will not question our honesty.
Socially, finding our click is supportive. Professionally, this is exclusive. In business, we are thrown together to support one another's job roles. This isn't a social click, yet professionally, we label this a 'team'. To become a team, we will need to break down the boundaries of one another's resistance to being honest. This can often take a long time, and require specialist attention. Once it's there, it's amazing. It's as if it were a social click.
Unfortunately, even if we get it right in one part of the business, unless the company is dedicated to communication and team building, it's rarely the same in the rest of the business. You may have many 'teams', but rarely, one 'team'.
We can create these teams ourselves. We can also attempt creating 'one team' for the entire company. Yet when a company employs a hierarchy that wishes to support secrecy, it's a virtual impossibility to get the Directors or Senior Managers on board.
The most successful companies are quite open. They have hierarchies, this is not the problem. Yet these hierarchies have chosen to openly communicate decisions between the levels. This is often known as 'transparency'. No secrets need to be kept. There's nobody to keep it secret from. Big mergers and acquisitions are communicated long before they happen. Ruling out someone picking up on the tells and beginning to rumour-monger. How this is communicated is often subjected to the level of detail required to keep a team informed, but none-the-less, it quells any possible misinterpretations and keeps everyone in the picture.
Keeping shtum is unhealthy. In order for us to believe what we know, we have to share it. If we hide, when we're expected to be visible, then those around you, whether trained in reading tells or instinctively picking them up (as we do), they'll know. Without communicating, they'll expect the worst. After all, why would you want to keep something 'good' from anyone? You'd want everyone to know, surely? Without successful communication rumours will brew, and that's the point that morale begins to latch on, going down for the ride.