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Best Practices for Creating a Communicative and Transparent Culture

Best Practices for Creating a Communicative and Transparent Culture
Best Practices for Creating a Communicative and Transparent Culture

Best Practices for Creating a Communicative and Transparent Culture

Brené Brown once said, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” Most of us avoid clarity because we tell ourselves we’re being kind. Instead, what we’re actually doing is being unkind and unfair.

Take a second to think about that. When we tell people white lies or reinforce that they’re doing well (when they’re not), it’s unkind. If you’ve done this before, you probably already know that these behaviors are more about making yourself feel better and less about making the other person feel better.

3 Ways to Create a Transparent Culture 

Presenting vague and unclear expectations but then blaming someone when something isn’t delivered to the standards you “expected” is unkind.

Making assumptions about something rather than being curious and asking questions to gain better clarity is – you guessed it – is unkind.

Communication and transparency can make the difference between success and failure in your organization. Sure, attaining and exceeding goals, innovating, and maintaining resiliency through challenges all have an impact, but those things rarely happen without communication and transparency. Kindness is key.

Teams that communicate well, share feedback and ideas, and cultivate a culture of trust can achieve goals more efficiently, innovate more consistently, and weather challenges more gracefully. Plus, employees who feel comfortable expressing themselves are more motivated, productive, and engaged.

What Does Transparency in the Workplace Mean?

1. Start with Trust

Creating a communicative and transparent culture sounds easy, but isn’t always simple. Communication and transparency are highly based on trust.

In Engage: The Company Culture Report, we learned that team members’ trust in their leaders is highest when they first join a team. The longer someone has been with a company, the lower their level of trust.

Have you ever done something to break the trust of one of your employees? Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time. Think back to our kind and unkind examples. Have you ever been unclear in your expectations and then upset when things weren’t as you expected them to be? Most of us are guilty of this at one time or another. That’s a surefire way to break someone’s trust. The danger is,trust it like a tree. Once it’s gone, it takes years to rebuild. Rebuilding trust requires ongoing commitment, transparency, and accountability.

Begin by evaluating the current level of trust in your team. If you have a low level of trust, that’s where you need to concentrate your efforts.

2. Reflect on Psychological Safety

Simply put, when you have psychological safety on a team, people feel comfortable being themselves. Psychological safety is the idea that people feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgment, criticism, or retribution. It's a vital component of creating a communicative and transparent culture, because people won't be willing to share their thoughts or concerns if they don't feel safe doing so.

Here’s a good way to gauge the level of psychological safety on your team: Think about the last time you collectively brainstormed with your team during a meeting. Did everyone provide input? Or did you hear crickets and struggle to get participants to speak? Extended silence is a sign that psychological safety is absent.

A workplace with high psychological safety can foster creativity, innovation, and learning. It can encourage employees to share their ideas, experiment, and take risks. Use vulnerability with your team and admit when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Share mistakes you’ve made and lessons you’ve learned. And as your employees begin opening up to you in return, show empathy and truly listen to what they have to say.

A Guide to Building Psychological Safety in the Workplace

3. Be Kind

Remember, clear is kind. It's essential to prioritize transparency in every interaction. Here are a few tips:

  • Encourage impactful listening by modeling it yourself. Don’t listen to respond; listen to understand.
  • Set the stage for open communication. When brainstorming during meetings, throw out the strangest, wackiest idea you can think of. Let everyone know they could possibly come up with something more out-of-this-world.
  • Embrace feedback from others. Just as frequently as you provide feedback to others, you should receive feedback from them! Invite everyone to be honest with you, ask for suggestions for improvements, and learn how you can best support each individual.
  • Replace blame with curiosity. Instead of assuming, practice asking questions to uncover more information.
  • Invest in the training and development of team members in areas such as collaboration, conflict resolution, and impactful listening.

Conclusion

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Creating a communicative and transparent culture takes time and effort, but the payoff can be significant. By prioritizing communication, transparency, and psychological safety, leaders can cultivate a team culture that is both productive and engaging for everyone.

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About Author

Kate Rehling
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