Why Leaders Need to Embrace Transparency
One of the most important goals you should have as a leader is to be able to unleash your employee’s full potential. And while there are many ways to accomplish this, workplace transparency is often the most effective. Workplace transparency makes everyone feel valued. Transparency encourages employees to step outside of their comfort zones and not fear being punished after sharing feedback. Freedom to share both ways also keeps them in the loop whenever you’ve made an important decision.
Many leaders still hesitate to embrace transparency. Possibly the hesitation is from a lack of understanding of how to create transparency or cultivate it. Let me try to convince you of the benefits.
Why Leaders Need to Embrace Transparency in the Workplace
Improves workplace engagement.
Transparency in the workplace is one of the most effective ways to motivate and engage your team. Using current research, we see that transparency is the number one factor contributing to employee happiness. When your peeps are satisfied, they’re more productive and loyal.
What’s more, transparency reduces stress and creates a healthier work environment. Mainly the work situation changes because transparency creates a sense of fairness. It also encourages collaboration and cultivates a safe space where everyone can express their opinions. Employees and other people don’t have to be concerned about being penalized for making a mistake. Instead, they’re encouraged to learn from the experience.
“Employee alignment, for transparency’s sake, means taking a look at the big picture and seeking to understand everyone’s role within it,” Andre Lavoie wrote previously for Entrepreneur. “This is easily done when employers practice transparency in the workplace.”
“Transparent leadership results in employees who understand the company vision and how their efforts help achieve company-wide goals,” adds Lavoie. As a result, both you and your team will become more proactive, improve your decision-making, and only fill your calendar with items that push you closer to your goals.
Problems are solved faster.
Employees and leaders learn more about one another and can grow to work toward solving problems faster when their leaders are transparent. While creating an open environment, we can see less of the ‘perilous’ leader. “Three factors contribute to one behaving as a perilous leader,” says Karol Wasylyshyn, Psy.D. in Psychology Today.
Using transparency as the vehicle, the managers and bosses begin to embrace total brain leadership (TBL), and better emotional intelligence (EI) can start to emerge. When there is less fear, there is more honesty, and people are freer to express opinions. Empathy increases and narcissism fades in a more competent transparency environment.
For example, if you need to improve your bottom line, then solicit feedback from your team on how to improve your cash flow before jumping the shark and making cuts, like issuing pink slips.
It creates a flat hierarchy.
As Angela Ruth points out in a piece for Calendar, “more and more organizations are opting to go with structures that are flatter and are more democratic.” For starters, it’s been found that organizations with flat structures outperform those with traditional hierarchies.
Furthermore, hierarchies are becoming outdated, move too slowly, stifle creativity, and prevents everyone from getting on the same page. However, through transparency, organizations can become more flexible and encourage more fluidity within positions.
Builds trust and respect.
Employees will trust and respect you more when you’re open and honest. For instance, you could discuss the challenges and mistakes you made early on in your career and how that helped you grow. While you don’t need to be too personal, you could also share your struggles with mental health as a way to improve your employee’s well-being.
Being transparent isn’t a sign of weakness. It actually shows that you’re a human being who had flaws, as well as strengths. That takes a lot of courage to admit. And, it can make you more relatable to others, which in turn, creates stronger bonds.
How You Can Create More Transparency Within Your Organization
There’s no denying that transparency should be on your radar. But, how can you promote it within your organization? Well, here some of the best ways to achieve this specific goal.
Yes, you can embrace transparency as soon as you begin hiring and recruiting employees. For example, make sure that you post detailed and accurate job descriptions. Look for potential hires who are honest. And keep the lines of communication open during the interview process.
Not only will you find the right people for the job, but you’ll also find those who will fit in with your culture. And, it also sets a precedent for openness right from the start.
Build connections through swift and focused frequency.
“Building trust isn’t just about intent, but also frequency and detail,” Marcus Buckingham, author of “Nine Lies About Work,” told Fast Company. “Employees need to know that you have their back and that only happens through regular check-ins or light touch, individualized communications.”
“If you meet with employees once a week for 10–15 minutes and simply ask, ‘what are you working on and how can I help?’, it goes a long way toward building trust,” adds Buckingham. In addition to one-on-ones, find other ways to communicate and engage your team frequently.
At Calendar, we use Slack to touch base, share information, and keep everyone updated. However, you can also break down silos through town meetings and implementing an open-door policy. And, don’t forget to provide easy access to crucial information like sharing cloud-based documents or creating web-based Wikis.
“People want to know where they stand with you as a manager, and every employee knows that’s a moveable feast,” says Buckingham. “When you take time to hear from each team member on their near-term priorities, while also letting them know ‘we don’t need to solve everything this week,’ you move the relationship forward, and see stronger engagement and performance as a result.”
“Don’t just share plans, let employees see what worked and what didn’t,” notes Kasey Fleisher Hickey over at Wavelength. “Leaders who speak openly about the state of the company gain trust.”
“While it can be difficult to reveal you had a bad quarter financially, keeping employees in the know every step of the way maintains confidence in your leadership and company,” continues Fleisher Hickey. “It can be particularly important during periods of high growth or financial struggle.”
Ask questions and show interest.
Put your ego aside for a moment and admit that you don’t have all of the answers. Instead, talk to your team members who do have the right answers. Not only will you learn something, but it also shows your humanity. And, most importantly, it lets your team know that you actually care about what they’re bringing to the table.
Treat everyone the same.
It’s only natural that you would click with certain people. But, when it comes to the workplace, you can’t pick favorites. It’s a surefire way to breed an unhealthy and toxic environment. Treat everyone with the same amount of respect. And never make exceptions when someone breaks company policies.
Involve others in the decision-making process.
Solicit feedback from your team through brainstorming sessions, online polls, or even the good ole’ suggestion box. It makes them feel like crucial players within your organization. And, because everyone made the decision together, you don’t have to explain yourself.
Don’t avoid difficult discussions.
A long time ago, I worked at a job that promised me a promotion. Every month I kept asking, and there was always an excuse. Finally, right around Thanksgiving, I was laid off because they were making cuts. I was furious. They strung me along for several months instead of just being honest with me.
Of course, no one likes having these types of conversations. But, at least you’ll be admired for addressing it head-on and not avoiding it. And, who knows? Maybe you and your team can find a way to resolve the problem together without having to resort to something as drastic as layoffs.
Always know “why.”
Discovering your “why” gives meaning and purpose behind your work. It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you plowing ahead when times get tough. And, it keeps you passionate and motivated.
When it comes to leading a team, explain why each member is essential to your organization. Acknowledge why their contributions matter to you. Encourage honesty through understanding. Let your employees know the purpose behind their work, so they buy into the dream of your business. When you take a moment to be transparent, your team, office, and employees will be more driven and focused during the day-in-and-out efforts.