Honesty & Transparency in the Workplace

May 18, 2017

As a manager, what do you pride yourself on?

– Career advancement for your employees
– Regular check-ins
– Recognition for a job well-done

These are all great attributes of a leader, but what about the less obvious and more difficult task of candid discussion? Any good leader will work to build camaraderie among their team through communication. To those that think that less is more, put yourself in the shoes of your employee who might be in the dark more often than they are in the know. Openness in the workplace can go a long way, but is sometimes neglected by those weary of providing feedback, both positive and negative. When employees find out information through the grapevine that they should have heard directly from management, it creates doubt and distrust that can be difficult to repair.

A great article I once read on management issues shared that the word ‘transparent’ is defined as “free from pretense or deceit; easily seen through; readily understood; characterized by visibility or accessibility of information, especially concerning business practices.” This can be difficult if it’s not the culture of the organization to be transparent, but these days, more companies are adopting this best practice. Some people find it very hard to give criticism or discuss areas of development, and something that should have been shared right away, is communicated months later. So maybe you’re asking yourself why does it matter, and what should you do about it?

– Constant Communication – It’s better to over-communicate than under. I’m sure there are many who would not agree with this, but always share what you are able, as creating transparent and open communication will lead to a collaborative, trusting relationship.
– Honesty – “Honesty is the best policy” is true in my book. Sure, some things are better left unsaid, but when it relates to someone’s performance or character, isn’t it better for a person to be aware and have the opportunity to improve?
– Deliver Regular Feedback – Many companies have annual review cycles, but should the first time an employee is hearing feedback be when it’s written in stone? By sharing more often, you are giving your employee the ability to change for the better, and maybe, giving you feedback on how to improve as well.
– Respect – Respecting your employee means not only providing feedback, but allowing them to give feedback in return. Perhaps you misunderstood a situation, or maybe word of mouth was mistaken. By giving the opportunity to counter, you are showing that you respect your employee, their opinions, and the facts.
– Admitting Wrong – It can be easy to assume you’re always right, especially in a leadership position when your way goes. There are times however that your employee may be correct, or perhaps you handled a situation poorly. You’re more likely to be seen as an effective leader if you can accept your defeats.

As either a manager or an employee, are you able to identify with any of these? Whether you have a leadership role or not, employees or none, why do you think honesty and transparency in the workplace will lead to a stronger organization?

As written for YoungEntrepreneur, May 8, 2011