Transparency in corporate speak?
Communication in the workplace can be a complex beast. Just ask Donald Trump’s senior communication staff.
The workplace can be filled with a multitude of personality types all with contrasting communication styles. Some meek, others with egos raging. Enter office politics, a corporate ladder to climb, all while managing your own personal ambitions and you’ve got one hell of a migraine by 5 o’clock.
There’s a basic social contract that exists between workers and their employers. Employees depend on work for their living and professional identity and businesses depend on their workforce to provide the talent and manpower necessary to generate revenue. It sounds simple, but this arrangement actually requires quite a lot of inherited trust on both sides.
Too often a lack of transparency from both parties can lead to confusion and uncertainty. How can we effectively strive towards common success if we are clueless about what drives the others agenda?
A baby boomer style of managing information is to guard and use communication as a weapon rather than a tool. This old school type of leadership doesn’t sit with well millennials who want to know where they are going and be clear on how they are going to get there.
So, knowing we have 4 generations working in tandem and that this is still common place in many organizations how do we bridge the gap?
Could increased transparency be a solution?
Let’s looks at some occasions where increased transparency could perhaps benefit.
Losing your job sucks. It also blows for those left behind. Morale dips and managers feel increased pressure to be the ambassador of the remaining troops all while towing the bottom line that is dictated by the executives.
If managers were empowered to share the vision behind the restructuring it could go a long way to making their troops, feel like they can be part of the rebuild.
The interview process is treated more like an audition than an opportunity to get to know each other. Everyone is presenting a manufactured version of themselves and is not always being authentic. Both sides could benefit from being more clear about their expectation and fears.
It is my experience that both sides are not as forthcoming with what the KPI's required to succeed are, if actually hired. Honesty about what you are expected to and can easily deliver on, can go a long way to curbing turnover.
A company that has an open door policy and and a culture where you can have a voice without fear of losing face, will surely reduce the number of claims of sexual, and or emotional harassment.
Can you imagine what an office with more transparency would look like?
Knowledge is power
A culture that tolerates secrecy means employees have to fill in the gaps for themselves, which can create heresy and gossip. Transparency can allow for more time of the free flowing of ideas and creativity!
Transparent cultures ensure that everyone is aware of what they are accountable for in delivering on the teams’ objectives. It makes it more difficult for the slackers to fall through the cracks and let’s the superstars shine!
Employees don’t just quit jobs, they quit bosses.
Leaders who openly communicate their agenda and vision empower their employees to create their own place in the puzzle. If they know the agenda, they can support and further it. It’s win win.
What are the risks?
A totally transparent culture can lead to creating expectations that employees are in the know about everything. That is not realistically feasible, nor advisable.
Transparency is supposed to bring facts to the surface, however left to stand alone, facts don’t always explain why something happened. Non strategic players can suffer when leaders leave important information open for interpretation as they don’t always have the full picture.
A decision to proceed with transparency needs to be made with a clear picture of the risks involved. The level of transparency in your organization should be dictated by upper management and should be consistent in the message that it spreads to it’s managers who ultimately set the tone for the individual units.
It comes down to first line managers to creating an atmosphere of trust and empowerment. The seed can grow from there.
Additionally, in order for this to be for this form of communication to be effective and well received, the deliverer of the communication on either side must consider BOTH the speaker and the receiver’s perspectives to anticipate how the information will be interpreted to avoid a potential misunderstanding.
It’s imperative that organizations to realize that social media has provided a plethora of outlets for people internal and external to share their experiences and voices, whether good or bad.
Sites like Glassdoor have given transparency fertile soil to flourish and there is no more hiding behind closed doors.
In an age of information, there leaves little choice for managers to strategically decide on how to communicate if they want to maintain a strong image to attract and to be able to retain top talent for their teams.