A transparent company is a unified company. When leaders are open with employees, everyone can work together more effectively to reach business goals. This transparent environment will also boost morale and foster a culture of trust.
But how can you get there?
Fortunately, building a culture of transparency doesn’t require a full-scale overhaul. The key is to adopt transparency as a value and begin baking it into everyday practices. Here are some simple, yet significant, changes you can make to promote transparency in your company.
1. Maintain a Company Intranet
Transparency starts with your company’s internal communications. It’s not just about what you communicate to your employees, but how. An intranet is an excellent tool for keeping information open and easily available. Leaders can upload documents and share updates across the organization, and employees can access this information whenever they need it.
This tool is also useful for communicating between teams. Departmental managers can post project updates so other teams know what they’re up to. Everyone stays in the know and can work more collaboratively.
2. Include Employees in Decisions
Top-down decision-making might be the norm, but it doesn’t support transparency. Companies with transparent cultures include employees in decisions. This inclusion looks different for every organization. Your executives might hold open meetings on upcoming company initiatives or send out surveys to employees online, for example.
While gathering input from employees might delay a decision, the resulting buy-in it enables makes it well worth the wait. Employees who help make decisions know what objectives they’re working toward. Remember, a sense of purpose plays a role in employee morale and retention. Transparency will reinforce this purpose on a daily basis.
3. Hire According to Values
People are at the core of your business culture. And if transparency is a company value, you need to hire employees who fit the bill. Present your values in a clear way and weave questions that demonstrate transparency into your interviews. Ask candidates about past challenges and mistakes, for example. Individuals who answer honestly and aren’t afraid to show some vulnerability will thrive in a transparent culture.
A round of hiring is also an opportunity to promote transparency internally. Tell your employees that you’re filling new positions and invite them to contribute to the hiring process. Employees will help pinpoint which prospective hires could be a positive cultural fit.
4. Use a Project Management App
When working within a team, it can be difficult to zoom out and see the bigger picture. This is why many organizations are turning to project management tools to foster transparency. Platforms like ClickUp and Asana show the status of projects, comments from team members, and upcoming initiatives.
The ins and outs of projects no longer need to live in your email inbox. Rather, leaders and employees alike can stay in the loop at every stage, even if they aren’t directly involved.
5. Set Up Collaborative Work Spaces
Your physical office space plays a role in transparency as well. As organizations transition from remote work post-pandemic, consider adding collaborative work spaces in your office. This may be as simple as adding a large table and chairs to a common area. Employees can bring their laptops to the table, work together, and discuss projects.
If your company is embracing long-term remote work, there are still ways to encourage transparency across departments. For example, offer opportunities for employees to work on committees. Committee meetings via videoconferencing give employees a chance to interact with other teams and learn what they’re working on. By working together on interdepartmental projects, they’ll be contributing to the organization as a whole.
6. Hold Town Halls
Transparency is challenging when you’re running a large company. Often, the best way to encourage communication is to get everyone in the same room (provided it’s safe, that is). Town halls allow leaders to give updates and employees to ask questions. These settings, whether in-person or virtual, are a key part of building a culture of trust.
Naturally, a culture of trust depends on openness and honesty. Encourage your leaders to skip the corporate buzzwords and be candid with employees. This may involve answering uncomfortable questions, but they should remain transparent and authentic.
7. Demonstrate Follow-Through
When promoting transparency in your company, encouraging open communication and feedback is only part of the equation. Following through on feedback is a factor that some companies overlook. Unless your leaders act on feedback, though, your efforts at transparency will be only for show. Be open about what you’re doing with employees’ feedback and how their opinions impact decisions.
Of course, some decisions will have to be top-down. Yet even these situations offer room for transparency. Tell your employees how leadership made a particular choice and why they opted for a closed-door decision.
8. Own Up to Mistakes
Transparency means opening the floor for feedback, collaborating on decisions, and celebrating victories publicly. But it also means being open about not-so-good news. Transparent leaders share the good and the bad, so you’ll need to own up to mistakes. This could mean telling employees when an initiative goes south or a client contract falls through.
As a leader, it can be tempting to hide mistakes and paint a rosy picture to boost employee morale. However, this approach often backfires. Concealing negative news builds a culture of mistrust and deception, pushing you further away from transparency.
9. Set Boundaries
Transparency sets your company up for success, but there are also lines that you shouldn’t cross. Sharing information about company projects, financials, and plans keeps employees in the loop. However, sharing information like individual salaries may only cause harm.
Simply put, there’s certain information that leaders should keep private. If an employee is having trouble in their position, they likely don’t want the whole company to know. You owe it to your employees to protect their privacy. Finding the balance between transparency and respect will build trust within your organization.
Transparency is often the quality that sets high-performing companies apart from the rest. Businesses that encourage transparency as a value and live out that value are positive places to work. Employees remain in the know, and all teams are aware of the bigger picture. It’s impossible to go from secretive to transparent overnight, but gradual changes over time will benefit your entire organization.
Written by Lara Harper