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10 Simple Ways to Create Transparency at Work

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Work transparency is not an overrated word, but on the contrary, has some real tangible benefits. It is no secret that transparency in the workplace promotes a healthy relationship between the employer and the employees of an organization.

According to Forbes, 50% of workers feel that the organizations they work for are being held back by a lack of transparency. Furthermore, 46% of employees state that a lack of transparent communication from leadership has driven them to seek a new job. Thus, transparency has more merits than we can think of and helps promote trust and reliance between different ranks and departments of an organization.

Here are a few ways we can create transparency at work in simple terms:

» Hire with transparency

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Ever wondered how your transparent hiring decisions may trickle down and influence the organizational culture? If you haven’t thought of it yet, it’s time you give it a serious thought as hiring is the first point of contact with your future employees.

This means you should clearly state the job responsibilities and expectations for open positions — both when posting positions and interviewing candidates. If a candidate has applied for a specific job, and they come to know during the interview process that the job profile is entirely different or has some hidden responsibilities, then this will instantly trigger mistrust between you and the candidate.

Additionally, you should always go for transparent employees. These are people who are honest about their past and have integrity. They do not shy away from talking about their past failures or experiences. You could fact-check their social media profiles or social media activity for this. Or you could watch their body language and how detailed their answers are to your questions during the interview.

At the end, your goal is to bring in people who are as enthusiastic as you about your business. But then you have to make sure that there is a cultural fit between the people you hire and your organization’s mission and goals.

» Give employees access to information and context

A company may have critical information about a variety of subjects. Depending on the confidentiality of such information—those which are absolutely necessary for the normal day-to-day functioning of the employees should be made public. This information can be anything related to projects, such as deadlines and individual tasks of each person. Project management software and shared calendars can be used effectively to achieve this.

Another thing of interest to employees would be the company’s financials and any operational or leadership changes that are likely to happen. The company’s financials will help people know how the company is performing. This also applies to changes in pay or the salary structure of employees directly impacting them.

A company named Asana has found a way to share information. They publish detailed notes about what was discussed at their board meetings and upper-level management huddles rather than keeping this information under wraps. This initiative provides employees context around company direction and goals.

» Make face-to-face interactions

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Technology has served as a boon for mankind and it became more pronounced for all of us during the past two years when the whole world was gripped by the pandemic. But then there is nothing better than a good face-face interaction. Some impromptu conversations or chit-chats with the office staff in the canteen is a good way of bonding and building rapport with your employees. There are some sensitive issues or pain points of employees that they are ready to share only in private.

» Hold town hall sessions

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The leadership team is always busy. But once a month or two, town hall sessions can be planned to interact with employees, to know about their concerns, or to get general feedback regarding the policies and processes of the organization. A lot of corrective decisions and possible solutions can come forth in such meetings with active engagement from both sides.

At the same time, the leadership team can share updates, and reinforce the company’s values in such meetings.

After the conclusion of these events, you could encourage attendees to share their perspectives by circulating a survey.

» Act on feedback

Only soliciting feedback is not enough. You need to act upon it as well because without that your efforts would not be credible.

Acting on feedback sends a strong message to your employees that you care for them. Even better, it lets them know that you’re actively taking measures to improve processes, systems, or even your leadership style.

A very good initiative would be to involve your employees in the decision-making process. This will also help you get diverse perspectives until you come to the final decision.

» Encourage ownership

You could motivate your team by delegating them responsibilities and granting them full autonomy. Instead of micromanaging them, let them work however they prefer. If possible, allow for flexible shifts and work schedules and the opportunity to work from anywhere. It’s a great way to show that you trust them. And it also lessens your workload.

The best way is to ask them what they need to get the job done, provide them with this information and resources and coach them from the sidelines.

» Share ups and downs for transparency

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Sharing of good news—what the company has achieved, milestones, the progress of business, etc is good enough. But it requires real strength to equally share bad news with employees--the challenges or setbacks the business has suffered or may suffer going forward, resignations at leadership levels, demergers, layoffs--all can be shared in a proper transparent way. You would not like your team to get caught off-guard when bad news comes suddenly.

For example—Yahoo shot an email to its employees in 2012 when it was undergoing restructuring of its operations. Or you would have heard of Microsoft CEO Stephen Elop’s email to employees in 2014 (in 2013, Nokia was taken over by Microsoft) where he writes “12,500 posts at Nokia will go as the Microsoft takeover is completed and there will be severance benefits”.

» Choose tools that support transparency

Too much time is wasted searching for a document in email, getting file permissions, or editing multiple drafts. A study says that an average employee spends 20% of his week looking for internal information and tracking down colleagues for help. Look for tools that help to break this barrier and help to keep information in one place which can be assessed by everyone. By everyone we mean across teams, departments, and the entire company. The team members can even give their personal feedback or insights at this place. And finally, make sure it’s accessible online so that everyone has the most up to date information.

» Make tough decisions

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Don’t become the boss who buries his head in the sand every time there is a crisis brewing in the team. Obviously, actions like these are not recommended. As a leader, you must address and resolve workplace conflicts and make tough decisions. When you do that, it lets your team know that they can come to you with problems and concerns. It’s also another way to listen to feedback while also giving you the chance to explain your decision.

» Treat everyone equally

Having a select group of people as favorites is not good for an organization. Employees should be recognized for the work and efforts they are putting in and not because they are the CEO’s or top management’s loyalists!

Please be respectful of your commitments to your employees. When everyone is given due consideration irrespective of their designations and personal relations with the management, they become comfortable in voicing their opinions. They also agree with the decisions taken by the management from time to time.

Conclusion

Transparency doesn’t mean that you boast about your new product launch or acquisition of a new company or any other important changes within the company before it becomes official.

If you do announcements ahead of time, it may jeopardize your future plans. So there should be a fine balance in everything. You should know where to draw the line between too much transparency and too little. When practiced in the right proportion, transparency helps to create an inclusive, happy culture within an organization.

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Paulami Chatterjee