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How transparent is your organisation?

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How transparent is your organisation?

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Transparency is one of those things that’s crucial to becoming a social business.  I’ve previously outlined the importance of building a work environment that encourages the kind of social behaviours that are key to an adaptive workplace, and transparency is crucial to at least two of them.

The decision making lever for instance relies upon a transparent approach to how decisions are made.  It requires making clear and visible the thinking and rationale behind strategies, plans and metrics, with an ideal scenario seeing employees contributing fully to all three.

This connection between strategy and execution then impacts upon the information lever.  If the connection is broken then it encourages teams to horde information and ideas.  It encourages them to keep to themselves when things aren’t going well, with employees simply keeping their head down and hoping no one notices.

A transparent work environment by contrast tends to equal an empowered one as employees often have as much information as each other, and are empowered to make the best decisions they can with that data, with feedback on performance flowing across the organisation based more on inter-working relationships than seniority.

If you’d like to find out if your organisation is a transparent one, consider if any of the following five attributes are present in your business:

  1. Remuneration transparency – the concept of making peoples salaries freely available has been around for a while, yet many still haven’t been quite brave enough to give it a go.  Doing so however removes any grumblings about either pay differentials or discriminatory structuring.
  2. Goal transparency – can you see the goals of both your organisation and your team?  Can other people do likewise?  I’ve written previously about the importance of involving employees in strategy making, but the chosen strategy and goals should then be made visible to all.
  3. Financial transparency – alongside this, the financial statements that underpin your organisation should also be viewable by all employees.  These should include any KPIs, trends or market comparisons so that everyone can see how the business is performing.
  4. Ethical transparency – at a number of organisations I’ve worked with there have been rumours and murmurings over the expense claims of senior executives.  This can emerge particularly when things aren’t going well.  The easy answer is to make all expenses freely available on your intranet.
  5. Information transparency – the final measure concerns information.  It should be freely available, whether it’s the minutes from a meeting or the social performance reviews you encourage staff to give one another.  You need to open up the decision making process so that all employees are aware of how important steps are arrived at.

I’m sure there may be other attributes of a transparent company, but if you do each of these five then you’ll be well on your way.  How many did you get?

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