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Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk, Revised and Expanded: The Plain Truth about Employee Engagement and Your Bottom Line, 2nd Edition by Richard Hadden, Bill Catlette

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CHAPTER 6

Tell ’Em the Truth

We adopted a philosophy that we wouldn’t hide anything, not any of our problems, from the employees.

—Rollin King, founder of Southwest Airlines

Truth or Consequences

Few things abound within the employment arena that are more poisonous than insincerities, half-truths, insidious omissions, and just plain lies. One of the principal reasons the truly great companies find themselves atop the summit of success year after year is because they go to great lengths to avoid confusing people by lying to them, particularly those people who are or aspire to be on their payroll.

If you care about your people, you make it a point to tell them the truth, even when—in fact, especially when—it hurts. Good leaders endure personal discomfort to deliver bad news in an up close and personal way.

I once had a conversation with Dennis LeStrange, then a business unit leader with IKON Office Solutions (a Ricoh company) immediately after his return from a meeting in which he had informed a group of employees that their office was being shuttered. Admitting that it was a difficult meeting and that he could easily have sent a subordinate manager to handle the task, he recognized that people needed to hear the bad news quickly rather than read it in an e-mail or hear about it on TV—and that they deserved to hear it directly from the person who had made the decision.

Frequent flyers share a universal perspective on flight delays and other travel disruptions to which too many airline ...

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