Transparency Is Not Optional

Tuesday, March 3 2020

It is harder and harder to keep secrets, whether personal or corporate, in today’s connected world. In some instances the information flow has presented a huge challenge: in others, the transparency revolution has been a necessary change. This is particularly true of leadership in the business world.

Websites like Glassdoor have made it possible for job seekers and the general public to learn how employees are being treated by companies, even by specific managers; what values are being promoted and the advantages & disadvantages of becoming part of a certain enterprise.

Transparency today stretches far beyond CEO salaries or corporate culture. It has become a new must-have attitude for leaders if they want to stay up to speed with the rapidly changing business world, be able to attract and keep the right employees and have their company thrive.

It is easy to be transparent when everything is going according to plan. Every leader will be happy to share the news about rising revenue, well-deserved promotions, or great feedback from customers. It is much harder, but even more important, to stay transparent in times of hardship.

Transparency creates clarity, which is essential to keeping a high level of psychological comfort among employees. The unknown is what scares us the most, not the bad news.

Openness about unpleasant changes, including lay-offs, compensation cuts, or development plan cancellations can help to avoid negative rumours, decline in overall morale, and deterioration of trust.

Staying transparent during tough times proves the leader’s accountability, which is very important for maintaining the loyalty of great employees and preventing them from looking elsewhere for a better place to work.

What can a leader do to make transparency an integrated part of everyday company life?

  • Change in leaders’ mindset is the first step. They need to accept that secrets, codes and hints are relics from the past and will be strongly rejected by smart, empowered employees.
  • Transparency is not just sharing the information, but also sharing the reasons why certain decisions have been made. Employees will be more likely commit to something they disagree with if they understand the rationale for it.
  • Transparency must be consistent at every level of the organization at every opportunity. Lack of consistency will destroy employees’ trust, which is very hard, sometimes impossible, to restore.

For leaders who see employees as a company’s greatest asset, who want to attract the best available talent and keep them for as long as possible, transparency is no longer optional.