All successful teams have the following six values working together to achieve performance:

  • Trust & Vulnerability;
  • Commitment & Accountability; and
  • Candour & Communication.

Like a veritable six-pack they form a functioning core – a strong yet agile operating system.

This article focuses on the role of Candour & Communication.

Whilst the power of teams and teamwork relies on the varying and unique strengths of each individual, the weaknesses and failings that accompany every person must also be addressed.

Good management requires not just to accomodate, but to optimise, the different personalities, modalities, values and motivations of each team member, so that everyone is performing to their potential.

There is a misguided view that everyone on the team must be friends, respect each other or always agree on what is to be done. Whilst this would be ideal, it is rarely the case in reality. And it is certainly not essential for team performance.

As we are all well aware, whenever there are two or more people working together, there is bound to be friction.

Most of us naturally tend to avoid conflict, postponing difficult conversations, or at worst, avoiding them altogether. We preference personal and group harmony, our need to be liked and to get along, over the performance of the team or organisation.

As a result, concerns persist, and often times worsen. Left unaddressed they can reach a point of no return.

It is not uncommon for people to be advised of their idiosyncrasies, errors or even non-performance long after they have become enshrined practices and habits. Sometimes, they are discussed for the first time when terminating an employee.

This is unfair on both the organisation and the person – especially, when early intervention could have resulted in changed behaviours and positive outcomes for all concerned.

Rather, performing teams should have a framework to encourage and manage conflict, or ‘candour’ as we prefer.

To do this there must first be a universal commitment to achieving the agreed objectives as well an understanding of accepted behaviours for how things will be accomplished.

It also requires commitment and accountability, vulnerability and trust.

Only then do we have a truly functioning team or organisation. One where frank and honest conversations can be had about what is being done and how.

In order for candour to be effective it must be accompanied by a high standard of communication. Ground rules to ensure everyone is on the same page and that no one gets hurt.

Good Manners

The first of these is good manners: being polite; no swearing; no intimidation or aggressive behaviour; no bullying or demeaning.

In summary, basic decency.

In any team environment, especially stressful, dangerous or sensitive ones, good manners provides the grease for the moving parts. It allows for safety of expression without retribution or repercussions.

Authentic Enquiry

Secondly, there must be an ongoing commitment to authentic enquiry: seeking first to understand…to get to the heart of the matter – the intent behind the action.

Consultation rather than confrontation.

We all make judgments of people based on their actions. Yet we justify our own behaviours based on our intentions. We call this the perception-intention paradox.

When we enter a conversation with an open and inquisitive mindset we learn to appreciate the reasons behind a person’s actions.

Timing & Context

Finally, appropriate information, timing and context can make a tremendous difference.

In some instances, patience is required to ensure everyone is in the right frame of mind to work through a serious problem. In others, immediate action may be required. Addressing the concern in public, or in the presence of the wrong people may not be the best course of action. Alternatively, a visible stance on a particular problem could be necessary.

Candour & Communication, when working together can be a very powerful tool for organisations.

They ensure clarity, efficiency and effectiveness. They can accelerate performance, provide agility and most importantly influence the way things are done.

If you’d like to put Candour & Communication to work in your team, do reach out – we’d love to be of assistance.


This article was originally posted on Nick Marvin’s Management articles as Candour & Communication – Critical to performing teams

Nick Marvin is a company director, management consultant, and author. Nick Marvin studied Business and Computing at Monash University and has an MBA from RMIT University. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management (FAIM) a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Turnaround Management Association. He was listed in the 100 Most Influential West Australians (2015 and 2016) and in 1991, he won Rolling Stone Magazine’s national writing award.

Marvin has been married to Leigh for almost 20 years; they have six children who are home-schooled. They attend daily mass at Victoria Park Catholic Church.