Last Saturday night. We were having dinner with friends. We discussed the level of openness one can permit at work. Two opposing opinions battled mercilessly on the field of gilthead seabreams and clam shells.
On one side Anna and her conviction that whenever you open up yourself too much some colleagues will use it against you. Once she actually got fired based on continual false information delivered to her boss by one of her kindest colleagues.
Agreed, this is a problem.
My opinion on the other hand is that you should be as transparent as possible – always. This is based on personal experience. Four of my bosses I had during my time with KPMG turned into friends.
Friendship? Yes, when you get a postcard from Abu Dhabi in 2010 from the partner who hired you in 2000 – I guess, you can call this friendship.
How did I make friends with my bosses?
Friendship, among others, is certainly trust-based. The Trust Equation by Charles H. Green, Robert M. Galford & David H. Maister is a great mathematical way to express the level of trust in any human relationship.
According to the Trust Equation you increase the level of trust by maximizing the sum of credibility, reliability and intimacy while minimizing the denominator of the formula – self-orientation.
Since I saw this formula for the first time in 2007, I’ve used it in presentations many times. It always meets the audience’s approval.
What strikes me most in this formula is the factor ‘intimacy’. Ask yourself, would you really trust someone with whom you only discussed the latest weather forcast or future superbowl results?
So – if we do not open up ourselves, we might still be able to continue with our war for trust, but we definitely lose the battle for intimacy.
My advice to all Annas out there: Be more transparent tomorrow than today! You won’t be a great politician, but you will have many friends and even your boss might be one of them.
Once your boss is your friend s/he won’t fire you…