Updated: Aug 30
Most of us instinctively know that workplace transparency, which is operating in a way that creates openness between managers and employees, is important to create a great culture. Even the research shows that a radically transparent culture is what employees want: according to Forbes, 50% of workers feel that the organizations they work for are being held back by a lack of transparency; and what’s more, 46% of employees state that a lack of transparent communication from leadership has driven them to seek a new job. A Harvard Business Review study revealed that 70% of workers say that they're most engaged in their job when senior management communicates openly with them. However, many HR professionals, business leaders and team leaders have not been trained on how to implement greater transparency. In this article, we will share 4 proven strategies that can be used to create a radically transparent culture in 2021.
1) Be transparent yourself (lead by example)
The traditional command and control management approach no longer works in 2021. That approach to management is authoritative and uses a top-down approach and is founded on a distinction between senior executives and workers. Instead, leaders should look to democratize decision making and keep employees in the loop. An open culture, where all employees are in the know, avoids uncertainty or people feeling excluded, and it reduces the risk of duplicating any work. According to Inc and Harvard Business School, only 10% of CEOs are natural leaders who guide staff by example. All employees observe closely what their leaders do, and they mirror their actions. The old days of the monthly CEO email are now over, being replaced by weekly company all-hands meetings with the CEO and even employees contacting their CEO directly on slack. But it’s not just the CEO who should lead by example and be transparent. All team leaders, HR professionals and all individual contributors should also be more open. If you can't be honest about how your performance and your shortfalls, you can't expect your team to be. Your peers won't feel comfortable coming to you with their own mistakes if you are not doing the same yourself. Companies should encourage transparency by adopting this practice themselves first.
2) Set expectations for a default of openness (share the good news and the bad news)
Most employees are no longer tied to the office or to the 9 to 5 schedule. Workers like flexible working and choose their working hours to fit their personal schedules.
In 2021, 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard.
For this new, flexible culture to thrive, it is essential to have a baseline of transparency and alignment within the team. Everyone in the team should know what their team is working on, and how projects are progressing. Transparent communication becomes fundamental. Employees should be able to find information they need and not wait hours for their colleague to log in. Setting a default of transparency will help improve collaboration in this flexible work environment. An aligned and open work culture benefits team connections and trust, which leads to better collaboration. A great way to set clear expectations for default of openness is to consistently share both the good news and the bad news. Sharing positive news with the team lifts spirits up, creates a strong sense of belonging and brings people together. Sharing bad news with the team is as important as sharing the good news. When managers hide the bad news from their team, they unintentionally create a culture of secrecy which makes employees feel nervous and more likely to seek employment elsewhere. When employees observe their managers and leaders sharing the bad news, they feel closer to the team and they feel more psychologically safe because they know that they are fully up-to-date with their organization’s news and updates and they will hear the bad news from their employer first. Sharing the good news and the bad news builds trust, psychological safety, a sense of belonging and a transparent culture.
3) Hire a workplace inclusion expert to facilitate conversations
Let’s face it: creating a radically transparent culture is hard and doing so in 2021 is harder than ever before. With hybrid work, a constantly changing workplace and new technologies to adopt, fostering a culture of transparency is more challenging than ever before. Most team leaders, managers and business leaders have never been coached on how to create a positive culture where openness is intentionally cultivated. Hiring a workplace inclusion expert who has the experience and the expertise to do so is a game-changer. A workplace inclusion coach will start by assessing your needs, where your organisation stands on the inclusive workplace maturity model, and what strategies to implement for your team. The workplace inclusion expert will also arrange weekly meetings where they will assess your progress, give you some homework and assessments, and most importantly, keep you accountable for creating a transparent and inclusive culture within your team to achieve a truly inclusive workplace where every employee thrives. Investing in a workplace inclusion coach is an investment in your people, which is an investment in your most asset as an organisation. The coaching programme will typically last between 6 weeks and 3 months, depending on how much work needs to be done and what stage your organisation is at on the inclusive workplace maturity spectrum. Ultimately, hiring a workplace inclusion is one of the best ways to get your people fully engaged in their work and passionate about their role again.
4) Cultivate connections between people
In the last 18 months, most workplaces have embraced remote work options. Although there are many benefits associated with remote work, many remote workers feel disconnected from their team.
According to Buffer, 19% of remote employees report loneliness as their biggest challenge.
Other challenges reported by remote teams include difficulty to manage projects, challenges around remote collaboration and difficulty building and maintaining trust. In 2021, it is more important than ever before to cultivate connections between employees in a hybrid work environment to create a radically transparent workplace. Instant messaging apps, such as Slack, are great tools to keep teams aligned and more importantly to cultivate connection. People should feel connected, encouraged to be authentic and to get to know each other on a more personal level to forge genuine connections. Encourage your teams to engage on more personal topics such as pets, cooking, hobbies, etc… Setting up open Slack channels for a virtual-watercooler helps people bondt beyond the day-day work discussions, which will create a solid foundation for more transparency at work.
As businesses are becoming more accustomed to hybrid work and to the post-pandemic workplace, creating radical transparency at work has become a must. A radically transparent work culture helps create an environment where people foster meaningful connections, trust each other, and collaborate better in a more inclusive way. Traditional secrecy in the workplace and top-down approaches no longer work in today’s rapidly changing workplace. Organisation and leaders who want to succeed in the 2021 workplace must lead by example when it comes to building transparency and alignment. If you want to create a radically transparent culture in your team in 2021, contact us now to take your first step to a more inclusive workplace.