How Transparent Is Your Workplace?

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How Transparent Is Your Workplace?

A transparent work environment tends to equal an empowered one.

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You want your workplace to be like this bubble.

Transparency is one of those things that’s crucial to becoming a human-centric business. I’ve previously outlined the importance of building a work environment that encourages the kind of social behaviors 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.

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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 organization based more on inter-working relationships than seniority.

If you’d like to find out if your organization truly has transparency, consider if any of the following five attributes are present in your workplace:

  1. Remuneration transparency – The concept of making people's 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 organization 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 organization 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 organizations I’ve worked with, there have been rumors 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 workplace, but if you do each of these five, then you’ll be well on your way. How many did you get?

Originally published February 2014

Further reading

Why Transparency Is Essential for Collaborative Development

No Transparency, No Empiricism, No Agility

agile, collaboration, communication, social-business, transparency, transparency in the workplace

Published at DZone with permission of Adi Gaskell , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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