by Matthew Stollak on Thursday, July 9, 2009

A central tenet of major sports is deception. In baseball, for example, the catcher and pitcher exchange signs so they are on the same page in attempting to fool the batter on what pitch will be thrown. First and third base coaches create elaborate signs they send to the runner in attempting to fool the defense regarding whether a stolen base will occur.

In football, both the offense and the defense are in a constant battle to deceive each other. Will the defense disguise its coverage or call a blitz? Will the offense call a running play or a pass? Will they line up for a field goal and kick it, or run a fake?

A common theme at the 2009 SHRM National Conference was trust and transparency. Jack Welch emphasized it as a critical component of HR in his comments in the opening general session. Bill Cawood, in his session, referenced a cosmetics company that had trust has its mantra, but was continually checking bags and purses for potential theft.

As HR practitioners, where does the line between transparency and deception exist? Do your employees have faith that you are looking out for their best interest? the company's best interests?

  • Are realistic job previews given to potential employees, so that expectations aren't dashed when they are hired?
  • Does the organization have an open or closed pay policy?
  • Is the merit pay program communicated and the objectives understood by all participating in it?
  • Are organizational policies, rules, procedures handled in a fair and impartial manner?
Where is the line between what should be transparent and what should be hidden, and do employees feel deceived by the latter?

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