Do You Want a Corporate Culture of Transparency?
In general, a culture of transparency and high information flow is a solid building block of a high performance culture. High performance cultures outperform their competition in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.
Research About A Culture of Transparency
Our organizational alignment research found keeping important information accessible and flowing within and across an organization fosters clarity and trust.
It seems clear that the more timely and transparent the information flow, the greater the alignment and performance across the organization.
Is a Corporate Culture of Transparency Always The Best Policy?
The answer is not so simple. It seems to depend…on your unique corporate culture. In general, when the facts are there for all to see, there are no hidden agendas or opportunities for deceit. But sometimes the facts don’t tell the whole story…or they may tell a story you don’t want to hear.
Culture of Transparency Example – Police Body Cameras
Let’s take an example from the recent news. There has been growing public distrust over how some police officers use force against citizens. Consider the rash of problems in the way police target, seize, treat and incarcerate alleged law breakers.
In some instances, incidents have led to fatalities at the hands of the very people we entrust with protecting us all. Experts offer a number of solutions from better training of the police force to the one that has gained enormously in popularity…the wearing of body cameras.
A Police Culture of Transparency Seemed So Simple
Cameras would show the facts and we would then have an unbiased record of what actually “went down.” But as this practice of body cameras has been introduced there have been some unintended and undesirable consequences. While the videos may record what apparently happens in confrontations, it also records:
Unregulated release of these videos can threaten the right of a person’s privacy.
The answer is not as simple as we at first thought. The benefit of preventing bad police behavior has to be weighed against the potential loss of privacy.
Making Compensation Transparent
We experienced something similar in our firm a few years ago. In an effort to improve clarity, accountability and transparency, we collectively decided to make performance bonuses public within the company. It sounded good at first.
Transparency would support accountability, and there would be no secrets on a team that valued pulling your own weight, team work and being recognized for your contribution. But there were unintended consequences. Not everyone on the team liked having their compensation be public knowledge.
Instead of spurring team members to greater effort and performance, the opposite was true. There were:
This was a group who held themselves to their own standards. Even though performance targets and bonus plans were public, they did not want to explicitly and publicly share compensation information.
The Bottom Line
First, you need to know what approaches would work best to drive positive performance consequences in your particular culture. Would transparency encourage greater levels of engagement and performance? It would in some environments…but not in all.
Second, learn and adjust. The culture changes you make…whether toward a culture of transparency or away from it…must fit with the way you do business and the cultural norms you have established. When your culture is strong and healthy, don’t let unintended consequences of a new policy undermine it.
To learn more about a culture of transparency and information flow, download Information Flow and Why It is Critical to Organizational Performance
Corporate Change Is Personal
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I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.
I’ve been associated with LSA for the last 8 years and have found them to be an extremely professional, well managed full service training organization. Since working with LSA, I’ve participated in a number of solutions ranging from Performance Management to Assertiveness Training – I’ve found that the quality of the resources is superior. They are well prepared and have definitely done a considerable amount of pre-work in order to customize our culture and business into the total learning experience – making it most beneficial for our employees.
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Our company engaged LSA to do a specialized “train the trainer” program, and the consultant’s performance outdid our exceptionally high standards for such a program. Very crucial to the success of this program was the work done upfront to discuss our needs and to interview key members of our organization so that the program specifically met our goals. Our facilitators continue to comment on the success of the program. Thanks also for the follow-up.
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The Next Generation Management Development courses have helped me communicate more effectively with my peers and teammates. By utilizing effective communication techniques such as clarifying and confirming, and asking open ended questions, I have been able to clarify and understand information in situations where I would have otherwise asked limited questions and made false assumptions.
Firmware Engineering Manager
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Frank J. Kuypers
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