There will be times in life when you choose to keep certain information to yourself. For example, let’s say that a doctor informs you that you may have a serious illness that could require surgery. You’ll have to undergo a series of tests to determine if this is the right course of action or not. The transparency process and issues are similar in business. There are about ten things leaders can do to promote transparency in the workplace.
With your health, you wait to share until you have all of the information.
You wouldn’t want to tell people that you’re going to have surgery. It’s not that they can’t handle it. It’s just that — why concern them or yourself until you have a definitive answer?
You wouldn’t boast that you’re launching a new product or acquiring another company until it’s official.
If you do ahead of time, it may jeopardize your future plans. On the flip side, if sales were lower then anticipated the last quarter, you wouldn’t assume that you’re business is in dire straights. If so, your employees might panic — watch The Office episode, “The Alliance,” to see how downsizing rumors can impact the workplace.
For a business to succeed, you’ll want to promote transparency.
For your business to succeed, you should promote transparency. After all, transparency establishes trust and expands relationships. It can also foster happiness, boost morale, strengthens innovation. What’s more, transparency can create a flatter hierarchy and help establish realistic goals.
Ultimately, transparency is one of the best ways to increase productivity and your bottom line.
But, as the captain of the ship, it’s up to you to make your workplace more transparent. You can do so by using the following ten techniques to promote transparency in the workplace.
1. Hire transparently.
Want your business to be transparent? Then the first place to start is when hiring employees.
On your end, this means clearly stating the job responsibilities and expectations for open positions — both when posting positions and interviewing candidates. If they applied for a specific job, and it’s not what they signed up for, then your relationship is instantly built-on mistrust.
Additionally, you should also hire transparent employees. These are people who hold themselves accountable, are honest about their past, and have integrity. You can find these facts out by checking their references or social media activity. During the interview, watch their body language and how detailed their answers are to your questions.
What’s more, you want to bring on people who are excited about your business. But, more importantly, they should be a good culture fit. You can determine this if they’re willing to buy into your mission and philosophy.
2. Give employees access to information and context.
Critical information should always be readily available. Company intelligence would be anything related to projects, such as deadlines and what parts each person is working on individually. Project management software and shared calendars are both easy and effective ways to do this.
You may also want to share company financials and operational changes. You don’t want to disclose anything too sensitive. But, providing an overview lets others know how your business is performing. And, differently, don’t hold off sharing personnel changes, or anything that affects the daily lives of your team. Be upfront especially with pertinent changes to benefits or pay.
When sharing information with your team, however, don’t forget to provide context. “The key thing people forget in transparency is it’s not about opening up the Google Drive and making sure that everyone can read everything,” Des Traynor, Co-founder of Intercom told Know Your Team. “It’s about the transparency of context as well.”
For example, when sharing revenue numbers also include profit margins and expenses. When you do, you’re letting others know where the business is spending money and how the revenue supports your business.
3. Make face-to-face interactions a priority.
Technology has most definitely broken down the barriers of communication. Thanks to email, Slack, or Skype, you can check-in on how your team members are doing, get everyone on the page, or get to know each better. And, while that’s awesome, nothing beats face-to-face communication.
Walk around the office and strike up conversations with your staff when they’re not focused on their work. Have lunch with them. And schedule one-on-one meetings with them. Not only does this build up your rapport with your employees, but it also allows you to discuss sensitive issues or exchange ideas in a safe and private environment.
4. Hold “ask me anything” sessions or town halls.
I know that you’re time is limited. But, holding these types of events makes you more approachable. It also allows your team to ask important questions and provide unfiltered feedback. And, town halls and “ask me anything” sessions are also perfect platforms to share updates, reinforce your values, and promote collaboration.
To get the most out of these events, though, you should encourage attendees to share their perspectives. For example, you could send out a survey following the event to collect feedback.
5. Act on feedback.
Speaking of feedback, you need to do more than solicit it. You also need to act on it. The reason? It shows that you’ve listened to your employees. And, even better, it lets them know that you’re actively taking measures to improve processes, systems, or even your leadership style.
Even better, get your employees in on the decision-making process. Discussion about decisions a great way to empower employees and keep them engaged. You will make better business decisions if you listen to additional information form your team before making your final determination.
6. Encourage ownership.
When assigning or delegating responsibilities, you can motivate your team by granting them autonomy. For example, instead of micromanaging your team, let them work however they prefer. If possible, allow for flexible schedules and the opportunity to work wherever they like. It’s a simple way to show that you trust them. And it also lessens your workload.
The key is to ask them what they need to get the job done. It’s then up to you to get them this information and resources and coach them from the sidelines.
7. Share the ups and downs for transparency.
I don’t think that most of us enjoy being the messenger of bad news. As a result, you may be tempted to share only the good news like accomplishments, milestones, and how your business is moving forward.
At the same time, you’re also responsible for sharing challenges, setbacks, and obstacles that your business is facing. The last thing you want is to have your team get caught-off-guard when there are a series of layoffs. That’s not great for morale for the remainder of your staff.
However, as I mentioned in the intro, you don’t want your team to panic. For example, you may have a terrible quarter financially. Let your employees know the information and use the stats as an opportunity for you and your team to improve your business before declaring the quarter a failure.
8. Eliminate job titles promotes transparency.
When there aren’t titles, it makes everyone feel that they are equals. As Jessica Yuen, at Gusto realized, titles “were not a measurement of someone’s contributions. They didn’t make us stronger, wiser, or bring us closer to achieving our mission.” They even suspected that titles were actually “adding extra layers and points of confusion.”
They got rid of titles. And guess what happened? It created a “no-ego” culture that attracted the right job candidates and promoted a more collaborative environment. But, the main takeaway was that ditching titles “was a constant reminder that we were on the same team, united by the same purpose.”
9. Don’t bury your head in the sand.
I already brought-up The Office before, so let’s keep rolling with the theme. If you recall, whenever Micheal Scott had to make a significant decision or confront conflict, he would hide. In some situations, like the health care episode, he would pass the buck to someone else, like Dwight.
Obviously, actions like these are not recommended. As a leader, you must address and resolve workplace conflicts and make tough decisions. When you do, it lets your team know that they can come to you with problems and concerns. It’s also another way to invite and listen to feedback while also giving you the chance to explain your decision.
10. Follow the Golden Rule.
Finally, treat everyone as you would want to be treated. That means not playing favorites or dismissing others. It’s also about honoring your commitments and being respectful of other’s time. That may not sound like much. But, again, when everyone feels like they’re on the same level — then they’ll feel more comfortable speaking up and listening to what you’re saying.
John Hall is the co-founder of Calendar a scheduling and time management app. He’s also a keynote speaker that you can book at http://www.johnhallspeaking.com.