- Talent Management
Here’s another one of those buzz words in the workplace – transparency. It’s not just the work environment where we’re hearing it thrown around – we also hear it frequently from our elected officials, from the media, and from just about anyone in a position of power.
There’s a reason it’s a good word to use. The sense someone is being transparent is going to build trust and loyalty and that concept certainly translates to the employer-employee relationship.
Being an organization that values transparency is often going to mean you have employees who are more loyal, feel more secure with their jobs, are more engaged and are just more productive overall.
It can be challenging, however, even if you recognize the importance of transparency, to be an organization that puts it into practice, particularly if it’s not an ingrained part of your culture.
In many workplaces, small and large, there tends to be a sense every decision is shrouded in secrecy, leading to employees who feel insecure with their position, frustrated, distrustful and lacking in loyalty toward their employers.
The Financial Facts
One of the most seemingly easy places to be more transparent in an organization is by sharing the financial facts. You can let your employees know how you’re doing on your own and compared to industry competition, and you can also let them know stock information, profits, and projected financial information.
What’s important to realize here, is that even though providing this information certainly up’s the transparency factor, you also need to take the time to help your employees understand those numbers. Educate them on what the financial facts mean, and how they’re relevant to their jobs and the bigger picture and path of the company.
Don’t Discourage Honesty
If you say you want an organization that’s fully transparent, you have to be able to accept some hard truths. A key component of building up a sense of trust amongst your employees is giving them the notion they can come to you and share information, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.
If your employees feel intimidated or scared to come to you and share something you may not like, it doesn’t mean your organization is transparent. Part of opening up the lines of communication are about a two-way street of sharing things without fear of repercussion.
As a side note—if you feel like your employees never have anything bad to say about your organization or its leaders, the reason might be a sense of fear versus a true and honest sense everything is ideal in the workplace.
A truly transparent organization is one that values being open and honest from start-to-finish in an employees’ journey. This means you’re transparent when it comes to hiring and managing, but also firing.
Employees tend to feel unsure of their position when they see an employee being fired suddenly and without warning, and they can similarly lose trust when an employee is constantly warned but no action is ever taken.
Firing shouldn’t be an emotional response—instead, there should be a clear plan for improvement laid out for troubled employees, and if they’re unable to meet this defined checklist, then it’s time for a cut and dry firing.
Leaving the gray area out of firing employees when it’s deserved, can actually help employees feel like they can know what to expect from their employers.
Answer Hard Questions
If employees come to you with hard questions, give them honest answers. Even if it’s an answer an employee may find troubling, ultimately they’re going to be more satisfied than if they receive an answer that’s a half truth or a complete lie.
Part of maintaining a successful sense of transparency also depends on being able to classify sensitive information versus information that can be shared with employees. This is why it’s important for the entire leadership team to work together and establish policies for transparency that don’t threaten the integrity of your organization, but are as open as possible. Leaders need to be on the same page when it comes to promoting a sense of transparency from the top down in an organization.
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