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Transparency is all the rage these days. I’ve seen everything from companies who give out pricing information - as in what percentage of each dollar spent goes where within the company – to those that even go so far as to list the actual payroll of everyone within the company.
Let’s get this out of the way first. Transparency is good. Transparency allows the consumer – and even your employees – a peak behind the curtain into the once-secret world of business.
Can transparency ever be bad? Absolutely, but in general I side with more transparency generally being more favorable than less. Transparency keeps you honest, and at the same time lets everyone else know just how honest you are.
But how do we take our existing business into the realm of transparency? Many have tried, but few actually do transparency all that well.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Treat Your Employees Like Adults – And Be Honest
Employees aren’t fragile. If you have something to say to them, just say it. There’s no need to beat around the bush or attempt to sugarcoat bad news. Look, bad news happens. Deliver it honestly, and with conviction. Your workforce will appreciate it in the long run.
“Any time I’ve just come out with candid, honest information, I’ve actually been surprised at just how well my team has responded. It’s only way to go when dealing with tough issues,” says Danny DeMichele, CEO of Elevated.com.
Don’t Fake It – If You Aren’t Sure, Say So
We’re humans. We’re adults. But above all else, we’re imperfect. You can’t expect to have the answer in every situation and to every question. Sometimes it makes more sense to circle back and address it later, after you’ve had time to research, think about it, or even look it up. Pretending you know the answer while delivering an unintentional half-truth is far worse than remaining transparent and admitting that you don’t know everything.
Know When To Keep Something To Yourself
Transparency works, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be used in extremes. In reality, even the most transparent workforces don’t know everything about their workplace, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m not saying that you should be keeping organizational secrets that are relevant to the people that need them, but you’ll also run into times where delivering the information does more harm than good.
Sometimes it’s okay to keep information in your pocket to share later, or not at all.
Close the Gap Between Employee Knowledge Levels
Many places treat upper levels of management with a different filter than the rest of the workforce. If the knowledge gap between an employee and a manager is that large, it’s time to think about passing more information down the chain.
Be Prepared to Explain Your Decisions
Being transparent also means looking like a fool sometimes. We all make bad decisions from time to time, but now that everyone knows, you’ll often have a bit of explaining to do. That’s okay; don’t sweat it. Be honest, and deliver the news honestly, and be sure to explain what you were thinking when you made it. Admit that you were wrong, and move on.
Transparency is a tool that few of us actually use yet it’s proven beneficial to those that have. Maybe it’s time to give it a try at your own workplace.