Transparency—A Business Imperative

Employees today are demanding total transparency from their organizations. It used to be that most leaders thought they had to be truthful with the world—including their employees—when they’d done something wrong and they needed to confess. Sure, that is a great time to be transparent but it’s not a “one and done” kind of action—we need to be transparent all the time.

I know this makes many people nervous—not because they have something to hide. It’s because it isn’t something they’ve had much experience doing. Many leaders have operated under the assumption that they didn’t need to tell their employees when the organization was experiencing problems—they thought they were doing their employees a favor by hiding the bad news.

That may have worked in the past century but it won’t work today. Now we want to know it all—the good and the bad so I hope this is the way you are operating and if it isn’t, here are some ways to get started.

  • Live your vision and your values—take every opportunity to reinforce your organization’s values to your employees. Let your employees hear from you what you value but be sure you live out those values or your employees will lose faith in you and your organization.
  • Share financial results—the dashboard concept is an easy way to quickly share financial information in an easy to understand format.  Keep it to one page and put it on your intranet or share in meetings so that everyone knows how you’re doing against your financial targets.
  • Set clear expectations and hold people accountable—when people are clear on what is expected of them, don’t let them off the hook if they don’t deliver. Let them know what the consequences are to not reaching a goal, give them the help they need to succeed but if they fall short, hold them accountable.
  • Train your managers—let managers know that they’re expected to be open and honest with their teams and provide help to them if they run into difficulty making this happen. Once they see how empowering having employees in the know can be, they usually see the value of transparency.

Of course there are pending actions that you wouldn’t share with everyone such as the possibility of a lay off or a termination for cause so always exercise good judgment when sharing information.  Remember that transparency is what good employees crave so do your part to be as open and honest as is possible!

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