Now more than ever, company culture and core business values are held to an incredibly high standard. The general public, team members and especially potential employees are invested in what goes on behind the scenes of a company, not just what’s visible on their website or social media.
This has become a phenomenon in the 21st century as we start to hold corporations accountable for their actions in sustainability, ethics and diversity.
So how does transparency play a key role in improving businesses inside and out? We share how a healthy amount of TMI can boost employee engagement, positive team culture, public reputation and even business success.
What Does It Really Mean to Be Transparent in Business?
Transparency in business is best described as a:
“... lack of hidden agendas or conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required of collaboration, cooperation, and collective decision making.”
Transparency is not just about blindly blabbing to your fellow team members. It’s about sharing what’s necessary to improve trust and collaboration, with zero hidden agenda. Obviously, there is an invisible line that shouldn’t be crossed, and doing so could hinder credibility. Not to mention, it would cause a seriously awkward conversation with HR.
But overall, being transparent in all facets of your business brings more good than harm. So what are the real benefits of building transparency into your business’s corporate culture?
Let’s Spill the Business Beans
Transparency starts with communication. It is essentially open, honest and straightforward sharing. It also has to start and be encouraged from the top down. There’s no point expecting team members to be transparent if leaders or department heads refuse to lead by example.
Here are our top 5 key benefits of a more transparent workplace:
1. Transparency builds trust
Trust is an incredibly important factor in any company structure. If trust is sacrificed, it can lead to massive dips in employee productivity and also leans towards a negative company culture. We don’t want any of that!
Importantly, having a certain level of transparency builds trust not only internally, but externally too. When a company is open and honest about how they operate, potential clients benefit from this.
If your company is upfront about its diversity data, growth and performance stats, pricing breakdowns etc. outsiders are more likely to feel comfortable dealing with your business. Essentially, sharing information with integrity may help set you apart from your competitors.
2. Transparency improves productivity
Employers that are straightforward with their company vision are more likely to encourage their employees to stay committed in their roles. Remember, your employees didn’t start the business, they may not have shares in it, and they are always free to leave.
You cannot expect them to be as passionate about the company as you are - unless you give them a reason to be!
The best you can do as a leader is to share how every employee is integral to driving the company’s goals, provide training programs and properly invest in your core team. If you have an inclusive long-term vision, they will be more likely to have one too!
3. Transparency supports innovation
Identifying the strengths of every employee at an individual level gives you a better idea of what you have to be able to innovate in the future. If you as a leader pay no attention to your employees, there’s little to no chance you’ll be able to successfully pioneer new ideas. At the end of the day, you can’t do it alone!
Truly understanding what your company is made of, allows you to handle more complex problems together. Not only this but trusting employees with a certain level of information about company obstacles, gives them the chance to help you overcome them.
This level of transparency opens up your company to solve problems faster and encourages your team to provide valuable new perspectives.
4. Transparency encourages feedback
When you share information with your team about current or upcoming decisions, you open yourself up to receive feedback. You may be thinking, “oh no, here we go...” - will this ultimately just open up a can of worms? But in reality, it actually enables you to have a more well-rounded decision-making process.
Once you receive valuable feedback, you can then take this information to make adjustments. Overall, transparency is a great way to consider everyone in your company on a holistic basis and leads to a better understanding of your employees.
5. Transparency tackles injustice
Transparency in the workplace encourages fairness. When all the cards on the table, there’s less of a chance for inequality to slip through the cracks. This goes for everything from salary fairness to department favouritism and even gender inequality.
The more open and honest your company is about how the above is addressed, the fewer risks you may run into in the future. For example, if it comes out that your business has been biased in any way regarding pay for a particular person or even department, it’s difficult to come back from that.
Ultimately, you should aim to continuously improve trust over time. Promoting injustice even subconsciously is not worth it for you, your team or your organisation in the long run.
Authentic Sharing vs. Oversharing
Now that we’ve covered the many benefits of implementing transparency into your company culture, we must address the risks. Whilst there aren’t many downfalls to being open and honest, there are right and wrong ways to go about it.
This is where authentic sharing vs. oversharing comes in. Authentic sharing is a conscious approach to communication with evaluated intent and an understanding of the consequences.
On the other hand, oversharing is mindless. It is not considered and can lead to toxic consequences. When the intent of your communication is not thought out or you just feel like having a little gossip - this is not transparency.
Transparency is not equal to sharing secrets. There are still boundaries that should be in place and the idea of “transparency” does not mean that employees have the right to know everything. Especially, when the information is not set in stone or it involves other individuals. You don’t want to start a rumour mill on the basis of transparency!
Above all, you do have the right to say, “I’ll get back to you on that.” Or, express that certain topics are off-limits. This also builds healthy boundaries, upholds respect for other employees and eliminates the opportunity for lockerroom talk.
If you’d like to implement a more transparent corporate culture in your business, our culture surveys, reports and change management packages can help you! Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start your positive team culture journey.