Do you want your employees to be more engaged, energized about their work and stay in your company longer? A key component to making that happen is transparency. Transparency, as used in business and defined by Wikipedia, implies openness, communication, and accountability. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed.

In order to discuss Transparency we have to begin with discussing Trust. It has been proven time and again how important it is to relationships to have trust. So, why would it be different in employee relationships?

For example, suppose that you hear through the grapevine that your company has lost some of your best clients. Without all of the information regarding goals, current financial data and standing, you start to fear that the company is going to close. Suddenly, you’re anxious as you arrive and leave from work, not knowing if the doors will be closed in front of or behind you one day. You’re so concerned that you start to look for other positions, taking your focus further away from your current position and leaving you with very little, if any, creativity or innovation.

All of the above could be solved with one conversation. That conversation could be the business leader letting everyone know the current financial standing of the company. That conversation could include a visual presentation of the financial data. That conversation could simply be the boss saying, “don’t worry, you’re not going anywhere, YOU ARE SAFE”. It could even be, “I can’t tell you what things will look like in two years but I can tell you right now, everything is fine.”

That kind of disclosure suddenly produces an employee who is lighter, more grounded, less anxious and at peace. They feel safe. They feel the lines of communication regarding this important topic are now open and they can trust that IF anything were to happen, they’d know because you’re willing to shed light on the subject, taking them out of the perpetual dark world of “what ifs”.

This sense of trust and safety that transparency fosters can be reached even further beyond the disclosing of financial status and beyond the goals and missions of the company by openly admitting mistakes. If that just made you cringe ask yourself, what is so bad about CEOs, leaders, management teams, sharing mistakes that have been made? In fact, didn’t we all learn how to walk by falling? Why is it so different? Don’t let the ego get in the way of these amazing teachable moments.

As a business leader, be honest about individual and collective mistakes. Not only will this help others to learn and grow in your company at an increasingly rapid rate because mistakes won’t be repeated, this will also give everyone permission to be more open about their own individual learning process. CEOs are human too and your employees will respect and trust you even more knowing that to be true. If you’re still cringing, a little hint to help you admit your defaults is to use humor. That will lighten it up for everyone involved.

When employees can trust that the leadership will be open and honest with them, they can trust the leaders themselves, making it a healthier relationship. Furthermore, it promotes belief and optimism around the company’s success as a whole.

As a quick recap, here are steps you can take to make transparency a key component in your company’s employee engagement:

[message type=”custom” width=”100%” start_color=”#F0F0F0 ” end_color=”#F0F0F0 ” border=”#BBBBBB” color=”#333333″]

  • Open, clear and honest communication around:
    • Mistakes
    • Company goals and mission
    • Financial data
    • Strategy
    • Any changes
  • Make yourself available for conversations and clarification
  • Include your employees in the decision making processes [/message]


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ic3 consulting is a staff engagement consulting firm that brings mindfulness and imagination, backed by brain science, to the workplace to improve employee engagement. ic3 delivers improved employee satisfaction for business leaders through customized corporate retreats, ongoing trainings, and executive coaching. Disengaged employees can cost your company a lot of money due to declining productivity, turnover, absenteeism, poor customer service, and the inability to realize the full potential of the organization. However, companies with a formal engagement strategy in place are 67% more likely to improve their revenue per full-time equivalent on a year-over-year basis (Aberdeen, September 2016). Want to become one of the best places to work? Learn how in this video series delivered to your inbox. Each video is under 3 minutes. Insightful Companies | Innovative Collaboration | Intentional Culture www.ic3consulting.com
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Dr Jennifer Beaman
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Dr Jennifer Beaman

Wonderful article Jennifer! I could not agree more – our people need to know that we’re human too. Leaders are real people behind the ‘title’. When we are transparent to the degree of providing a safety net (i.e. when things get rough), it gives our people the opportunity to relax a bit and not worry about whether they’ll still have a job tomorrow or next week.

When they are secure their level of productivity isn’t interrupted. It’s human nature to turn our attention to worrying or planning for ‘what’s next’ when we don’t know (when leadership hasn’t been transparent enough). In turn, instead of focusing on our work – we’re trying to figure out what our next step is going to be.

Developing and sustaining a solid degree of trust in the workplace is critical. Not only in the tough times, but all of the time. It peppers the entire organization :)

Thank you for sharing Jennifer!!!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Thank you Dr.Beaman! Exactly. It’s human nature and when that nature is honored and acknowledged in the workplace it makes growth more possible. So grateful for your thoughtful comment.

Larry Tyler
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Larry Tyler

What a great Post. I think we can inspire more by being open and engaging. At a box store I worked at the CEO came into our store and we were told not to speak to him unless he spoke to you. He flew in on his private jet and had an entourage of twenty people. We to say that company is in trouble would be no surprise. My boss now is open and honest and strives to get you good and accurate information. You can even call him. Been with him nine years.

Jennifer Carey
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Jennifer Carey

Thank you Mr. Tyler! I can’t help but think that deep down that CEO was lonely within those walls of separation as well. We all need to feel connected. Thanks again for your comment and example.

Chris Pehura
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Chris Pehura

Great points. Though putting transparency into practice is challenging.

In Canada, the current Prime Minister is not very transparent. This is making many begin to question his acts and his motives. For instance, Canada has a security policy with outlined processes. Typically when you go through a process, there are signatures collected each step of the way. No one can find those signatures or even evidence that the security process was completed. This is concerning because all of this involves parts Canada manufactures for NORAD. Canada is selling them to China. This was a big surprise to the USA.

This isn’t the first time that the Canadian Prime Minister had zero transparency for what he’s doing. At the moment I believe he’s being investigated.

Jennifer Carey
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Jennifer Carey

Thanks for these interesting and thought provoking comments Mr. Pehura. I agree. Putting transparency into practice is challenging. A lot of times leaders don’t feel people are ready or “can handle” knowing and seeing the big picture.

Chris Pehura
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Chris Pehura

Rereading this article, I’m reminded of the psychology of people falling into power. Some people, if they are unaware of the trappings fall deep into them. I remember one VP that talked the right way about transparency. However, when good questions were asked, he would say one thing, but his body and actions during the meeting and after said something very different. Because of the VP’s political clout, people were scared to question, terrified to dig in. In the past, this VP reassigned four questioners to poor performing teams and then would terminate the whole team because of performance. This was the first time I seen someone weaponize transparency.

Jennifer Carey, EdS, LHMC
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Jennifer Carey

Thank you for rereading and for this comment. I could be wrong but it sounds like his “transparency” wasn’t consistent nor authentic. Maybe we need to specify: honest, consistent, authentic transparency?