What a More Transparent Company Culture Can Do

What a More Transparent Company Culture Can Do
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A More Transparent Company Culture

From police forces using body cameras to Whole Foods sharing salary information, more and more companies are looking into creating a more transparent company culture to build trust and create high levels of employee advocacy.

The Definition of Corporate Culture
A company’s culture sets the tone in so many ways.  Your workplace culture defines the boundaries for how things truly get done on a day-to-day basis.  Your culture shapes the way employees think, behave, and work.

New employees must learn the cultural norms to be “accepted as a member” and effective leaders must hire, promote, and reward employees who behave in way that aligns with the desired corporate culture.

A More Transparent Company Culture
Think of a more transparent company culture as one where timely information flow is embraced, knowledge sharing is the norm, and data is available to all.  This means that every employee can access information about where the company is going, how the company is doing and where they stand.  In some companies, it includes sharing calendars (even that of the CEO’s).

What You Can Gain with a More Transparent Company Culture
For many who are more used to keeping plans, information, and finances close to the chest, such openness is at first uncomfortable.  Many things should be kept within the Executive Team or to a select group of individuals who can handle the truth, right?  But here is what an open and more transparent company culture can do for your organization.

We know from assessing organizational cultures that cultural transparency helps to improve five key areas:

  1. Trust
    Trusting coworkers and company leaders to do what they say they will do is the foundation for effective teamwork. Trust is the basis for workers to feel interconnected in a way that they can move together to be most effective. Trust is an essential ingredient for building high performing teams where morale and results are high.

    Without trust, it is difficult to create the vulnerability and cultural accountability required for a high preforming team.

  2. Productivity
    When coworkers understand and agree upon team norms and expectations, individuals and teams can be far more efficient and productive within their own realm of responsibility. Clarity and commitment decreases confusion about who owns what, minimizes duplication of effort, and increases the appreciation and respect for everyone’s contribution.

    In fact, a recent study from Wakefield Research found 92 percent of respondents said they’d increase their discretionary effort and improve their performance if their goals were visible on a company-wide basis.  Another 37 percent said their performance would increase if they better understood the overall goals of their company and their peers.

    Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of employees reported not clearly understanding the overall goals of their business — not a great foundation for increased performance.

    Ensure that individual, team, and company performance is being measured using the critical few relevant,  aligned, influenceable, meaningful, and timely metrics that carry the most weight.  Then make sure that results are visible and easy to understand.

  3. Performance Coaching
    Another positive of an open company culture is that feedback is welcome. Because transparency is a catalyst for trust, the sense of shared goals and cooperation breaks down silos and territorial protectiveness.

    Transparency helps to create a mutual respect and an overall desire to improve so coaching toward better performance is natural, desired, and supported.  This enables coaches to be more targeted, specific, timely, and team goal-oriented.

  4. Sharing
    Communication within and between teams is a high priority in an open culture. Information is curated and shared (not filtered, manipulated, or horded), tough questions are encouraged and answered, and new ideas are respectfully considered. Dashboards show company metrics and the company opportunities and challenges are open to discussion and debate.

    The result is that employees feel ownership and satisfaction in their ability to contribute to the company’s success.  Sharing breeds individual and collective accountability and reduces back-channeling and gossip at work.

  5. Decision Making
    As you can imagine, increased trust, clarity, feedback, and information sharing all result in better, faster, and more graceful decision-making.  What would better decision making mean for you and your teams?

The Bottom Line
Perhaps the Dalai Lama said it best: “A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.”  How transparent is your company culture?  You will know you are moving in the right direction when your employees believe that:

  • Communication is good throughout our organization.
  • Company leadership has communicated a vision of the future that motivates them.
  • They are well informed about issues going on within the company.
  • They have enough information and resources to do their job well.
  • The company listens to and takes employee ideas seriously.
  • Feedback to management is well received and followed up on.
  • There is cooperation between their department and other departments they work with.

To learn more about how to create a more transparent company culture, download 29 Ways to Build and Maintain Trust as a Leader

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