What would you do?
According to hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, he would applaud him or her for doing so.
And he doesn't mean it as a threat (i.e. "Good job for showing this amount of nerve -- you'll be turning your pass into HR by the end of the day.")
In fact, his company, Bridgewater, is built on a culture of what he calls 'radical transparency.' What does 'radical transparency' mean, exactly? It means that no one is immune from criticism -- not even the CEO.
So, how do you create an awesome company culture that encourages transparent communication?
At my company, I try to enforce a similar culture, by continuously asking my employees this one question... "If I make a mistake, please let me know." Not because I'm a sucker for negative feedback -- I don't like being called out as well -- but when I show by example that I'm open to criticism, it not only helps me improve, it also gets others to think about how they can grow similarly as well.
Here are a few other tips:
1. Tear down the walls in your company.
What's the worst thing you can do to any business? Making each department so specialized that your employees keep to themselves in their own cubicles.
Instead, get your employees to mingle as much as possible. This encourages teams to share knowledge, and helps people to perform better at their jobs. And, the more your employees bond, the better they will work together on projects.
Now, I'm not saying that you need to literally tear down the walls and create an open office space. Just make it easy for people to communicate with each other. In my case, I make it a point to tell my employees that my door is always open -- so they feel like they can approach me with any problems they're facing.
2. Turn your company into a real-time feedback machine.
Here's the problem with feedback processes at most companies: first, it's too formal, which discourages people from sharing their real, honest opinions. Second, it's not that great timing-wise. By the time that annual review comes up, your employees might either have forgotten their initial feedback, or have 12 months' worth of frustration to unleash on you!
Ideally, make feedback an everyday, real-time thing that you incentivize across the company. This motivates your employees to give and receive feedback, making them more willing to engage in discussion and even debate. And, the key is to allow employees leave unbiased, anonymous feedback, since not everyone will be comfortable doing it in person.
At my company, we have a process helpline in place, so that people can suggest ideas on improving processes whenever they want. At the end of the week, we reward the top three ideas after voting on them. We also make it a point to implement the best ideas, so that our employees can see that we take their suggestions seriously. I am also a huge fan of anonymous surveys, whether it be day to day or general improvements.
Now, here's a perfect example to summarize the power of a transparent company culture. A few employees noticed that they were criss-crossing each other's routes of service, which meant they were doing unnecessary work (rather than focusing on their respective areas.)
To solve this problem, they came to me suggesting that we build a special feature into our vehicle tracking system that allows them to prioritize customers in a smaller area. I thought it was a great idea and immediately gave them the green-light to implement that. Customers love it, since our employees could attend to their calls quicker. This all wouldn't have happened if our culture hadn't encouraged open communication as well as feedback.
At the end of the day, your office can only be a great space to work if people can talk frankly, which also means they work effectively. So, hold off on buying that ping-pong table for now, will you?