Just like everyone in Silicon Valley, I’m a big believer in the Network Effect. The more people that use a product, the more valuable that product becomes. And the same is true with information. Our portfolio companies are always looking for advice and insight from someone who has experienced what they’re going through. Instead of just sharing my thoughts we often go to our Affiliates—the 90 people who make up the Webb Investment Network and who invest alongside me—for more specific advice and more comprehensive answers. I wanted to bring the same collective knowledge to Forbes.
This is a question we got from one of the founders in our portfolio, which we took to the Network to get some answers:
Everyone is talking about the virtue of Transparency, but how do you know what to share and when?
Know your own thoughts first: Before sharing the details of a meeting or a deal with the team, make sure you know what you think about the situation. Give yourself some time before sharing so that you’re not judging based on mercurial emotions, but on logical facts. “I don’t trust my moment-to-moment emotions to reflect the reality of the situation,” says Slava Akhmechet, founder ofRethinkDB. “On the other hand, if I do a week of meetings and get a consistent negative (or positive) vibe, I’ll be completely honest with the team about how I feel. This helps me avoid dragging the team into despair or euphoria, but also communicates the situation.”
Set expectations and goals: Don’t just offer the facts, offer perspective. Employees don’t have all of the information or experience that you have and may overreact to information without context. Moreover, instead of telling employees what you hope will happen, set a reasonable goal that the staff can achieve to help the company move forward. This can give workers a sense of empowerment. “Humans don’t do well with things we cannot control. It is up to the CEO to translate company needs [in this case funding needs] to what employees can [do to] help,” says Jack Jia, Who’s Who of Silicon Valley and founder and CEO of Trusper.
There are a lot of great articles that also cover this. A few to check out:
Jeff Weiner (LinkedIn) – The Most Valuable Lesson I’ve Learned as a CEO
Charlie O’Donnell (Brooklyn Bridge Ventures) – What to do when things aren’t working at your startup
Joel Patterson (JetBlue) – High-Trust Culture #6: Don’t Keep People In The Dark
Harvard Business Review – 23 Tools to Make Your Feedback Meaningful