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Telltale signs of the most transparent leaders

4 min read


It’s clear that transparency in the workplace creates a better office culture, but it is also vital to organizational success. It starts with having a transparent leader. Do your best people understand the company vision? Can they accurately align their own goals with those of the company? Do they know how well the company is doing?

If not, you’re probably not as open and honest with your employees as you should be. Not sure if you’re transparency is more akin to Casper or a brick wall? Here are four things that the most transparent leaders do to build greater transparency, trust and loyalty in the workplace:

  1. Publicize the company vision.

Aligning goals in the workplace, in pursuit of a well-defined company strategy, is essential to driving business success. But employees who don’t have a clear understanding of the organization’s vision will have a hard time setting relevant work goals.

In fact, only four out of 10 (41%) employees know what their company stands for and what sets its brand apart from competitors, according to research by Gallup. Employees who understand their role in achieving company goals will likely feel more motivated to pursue their individual work goals.

That being the case, employers should strive to regularly communicate company-wide goals to their employees. A company that does this really well is HubSpot. One of their primary goals is to maintain a “radically and remarkably” transparent culture by only protecting information when it is legally required, or not theirs to share, and essentially having a no-door policy.

  1. Remember that sharing is caring.

One way to maintain a sense of transparency with employees is simply by sharing information with them. Communication is a key driver of employee engagement and business success. This information can range from formal company updates to informal company matters, like employee birthdays. Whether it’s through company-wide newsletters or a shared company calendar, just keep employees in the loop as much as possible.

That includes giving (and welcoming) regular feedback. Feedback should be ongoing, yet a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that only 2% of employers provide ongoing feedback to their employees.

Rather than waiting to give employees feedback during the performance review, which doesn’t come around often enough for most companies, offer employees feedback as soon as you think of it. This ensures that employees understand what you’re looking for and can produce better quality work, as a result.

  1. Show them the money.

Don’t hesitate to be honest with employees about how the company is doing. The best way to prove a company is doing well — or not so well — is to show them the money. Divulging financial statements that show assets, capital, investments, etc., can help you maintain a status of stability and potential.

Social media company Buffer, for example, goes as far as to make all salaries public within the company. They created a formula for how salaries are calculated and added it to their Wiki page, for everyone on the team to see.

Not only does being open and honest about how the company is doing help motivate employees, but it fosters a work environment centered on trust. Sharing financial information with employees can also help them understand the true financial impact of decisions. Employees should have a clear understanding of the costs of individual and company-wide mistakes and successes.

  1. Humanize yourself.

Last, but certainly not least, show employees the person behind the boss. Take the time to get to know employees, and give them an opportunity to better get to know you. Groove Commerce, an award-winning digital advertising and marketing agency, does this by inviting employees to spend quality time with the CEO over one-on-one Friday lunches.

Employers can also spend time with employees by holding lunch-and-learn programs or by getting out of the office and taking part in team-building exercises. Not only does this give employees an opportunity to see their employers in a different light, but it engages workers and encourages camaraderie in your workforce.

What do you think makes a transparent leader? What other ways can senior leadership create transparency in the workplace?

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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