What does transparency in the workplace actually look like? Buzzwords like open dialogue, professional integrity, and bringing others up with you are common in workplace culture these days.
But what is workplace transparency? How can you implement it, and what are the benefits? We've assembled a guide that explains how transparency helps promote a better working environment, and what it can actually mean for you.
What Is Workplace Transparency?
Have you ever gotten into a role and felt blindsided by the expectations, company culture, or expectations? As a business leader, do you really want the same things for your employees?
Transparency means that you need to be honest at all stages of your business. The importance of integrity is true for your communications with peers, employees, clients, customers, supervisors, and more.
Transparency means that you align your communication with a set of values. Humility, trust, and clarity are all important values to guide your communication.
In some siloed leadership dynamics, information is guarded carefully. Information is used to manipulate employees, if not lie to them outright.
It's a paternalistic form of employment. The idea that 'I'll tell them what's good for them', and 'they just need to do what they're told' is a recipe for a toxic workplace.
Transparency doesn't mean that you should overshare, or sabotage client relationships by giving out confidential information. Instead, it means prioritizing the quality of the information given, rather than the quantity.
What Are the Benefits of Transparency?
The benefits of transparency in the workplace include genuine relationships, improved productivity, increased innovation, better hiring choices, and stronger workplace culture.
We've all heard the old saying—what comes around goes around. The concept of karma holds true in many workplaces.
If you're not transparent with your employees, will they be transparent with you? Likely not. This can lead to fudging the time clock, pushing deadlines, or more serious issues such as embezzlement.
When you have a genuine relationship with your employees, built on the foundation of transparency, they're more likely to believe they're on your side. In many workplaces, there's an us. vs. them mentality.
No one believes that management is on their side. Instead, there's an underlying attitude of resentment.
That's what happens when employees are victimized by manipulative communication. Workplace morale tanks and resentment replaces teamwork and genuine goodwill.
Transparency also helps increase productivity and innovation. If you keep your employees in the dark, they may feel like they couldn't anticipate massive changes within your industry or your company.
Instead, they're forced to pivot at a moment's notice. What could these changes look like if they had a little time to prepare?
Flexibility and innovation are the names of the game in a post-COVID world. The better prepared your team is, the better they can innovate.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. If you want to see just what your team can invent, prepare them with high-quality, transparent communication.
Building Your Workplace
Hiring choices are also impacted by transparent communication. Like we said above, have you ever been blindsided in a new position?
The company seemed like such a great place during the interview. But once you were properly in the door, everything seemed to change. What happened?
It's likely that you were impacted by dishonest communication. By misrepresenting the company, they got a warm body in the door to fill a hiring need.
That's not how you want your hires to feel! It's bad for them, and it's bad for you. People react to the information they're given.
If you give them dishonest information, you're not getting a true read on their skills and personality. If you hire the wrong person for the job, you're wasting a lot of time and money.
You may be hiring someone that's not the right fit for your company culture, or for the job itself.
When you have employees that believe in you, increased productivity and innovation, and the right hires, you have the building blocks you need to build a great workplace culture. Reaping the benefits of transparency is exactly what good business leaders want!
How to Be More Transparent in the Workplace
We've reviewed the benefits of transparency in the workplace, but how do you actually implement it?
Start by prioritizing honesty. If you're used to "fudging" the details a little or withholding information, that's a habit you need to break. Of course, as a leader, you may need to withhold confidential information.
But prioritize being as honest as possible. Don't leave your employees guessing as to what you really mean.
Also, it's important to start asking questions. If you're not informed, then your employees won't be either. Cultivating an attitude of humility and curiosity is crucial to workplace transparency.
As a leader, you should also prioritize giving feedback. Blindsiding your employees with termination—unless they've done something particularly egregious—is unprofessional. Instead, giving honest feedback presents good employees with the opportunity to improve.
Sharing business performance is another way to stay transparent. What are your sales numbers, or overall revenue numbers? Sometimes, teams and departments are only aware of their own successes.
They don't know how other teams are performing, or they don't know the situation of the company as a whole. Hopefully, when you share overall business performance, it will be a cause for celebration!
It's important to prioritize professionalism, too. Transparency does not mean oversharing. Withholding details of your personal life is important. No employee wants to know about your failing marriage, or your problems with your great-aunt Jane.
You should also respect personal boundaries for your employees, too. They may not want to share every detail of their personal lives at their workplace.
Transparency means demonstrating respect for others, which is something that every business leader should prioritize in their communication.
Prioritizing Transparency in the Workplace
If you're prioritizing transparency in the workplace, you can expect good things. Increased productivity, morale, employee engagement, and client relationships all result from honesty.