How Do You Encourage Candor in the Workspace?

Originally published April 2015.

Tony Gareri is the CEO of Roma Moulding in the Toronto area.  He submitted a well-crafted article about candor to the Globe and Mail Leadership Lab in March of 2015 (  He credits Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric and his book titled Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book.

Look up the word ‘candor’ and you will find the definition: “The quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness.”  Synonyms: honesty, candidness, truthfulness, sincerity, forthrightness, directness, plain-spokenness, bluntness, straightforwardness and outspokenness.  

Candor is, in essence, telling it like it is. 

We have all run into situations where a glaring lack of candor in a business environment has clouded or hidden reality, rather than providing an honest, direct and open approach to a very sticky situation. The lack of candor can cost relationships and reputations.

Honesty trumps all.  

Ask yourself, as Tony Gareri suggests, if candor is a driving element on your day-to-day life. Ask yourself:  

  • How often are you really told how you did?
  • How often do you tell others how they really did on a project?
  • How often do you refrain from speaking up in a meeting so as not to hurt the feelings of the other person?
  • How often do you sugar coat bad news?
  • How often do you hold back comments and or criticisms?

The lack of candor can damage relationships, partnerships, projects and businesses in general.  

On the flip side, do you really want to work in an environment that encourages such open dialogue, that risks hurt feelings, embarrassment and all the dirty laundry that real truth brings with it?

Well, I think I do so long as this environment comes with compassion, fairness and good timing.   Candor is great but it can be dangerous.   

How do you encourage candor in the workspace?  This is a cultural issue and like most things cultural, it has to start at the top.   Honest and thoughtful feedback and dialogue that gets to the heart of the matter must start at the top. If the CEO treats his or her people this way it will start to filter down.

But we can take this advice and apply it to our teams at all levels.  Start slowly, working with your direct reports.  Have them read this blog post or that of Tony Gareri or even the section in Jack Welch’s book that talks about it.  Plan the new dialogue and execute slowly and compassionately. The early results should all create a positive outcome.

Candor. Is this a part of your leadership style that you are missing?


More Posts

Working with a Disengaged Team

I have been watching a friend struggle recently as she tries to manage a team of people who were not engaged.  Read… ‘they really didn’t care’.  The result is demoralizing

Now is the Time to Find Your Coach

Well, actually it was time to find your coach a long time ago. But that’s alright.  There’s still time. They figured out many moons ago that professional athletes needed coaches.

Subscribe to my blog

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top