The Power of Transparency in the Workplace

When we talk about how to run a business, the word “transparency” is often batted around. It’s a big buzzword, but it can be fairly difficult to execute. Achieving transparency takes some time, but it’s extremely beneficial not only from an ethical standpoint, but from a business standpoint as well. Here are a few ways that being transparent can help your company:

1) Transparent companies function at a higher level.

When Buffer’s transparent revenue model first came out, many people were unsure what to make of it. Whether you like it or not, Buffer’s model was revolutionary. It’s biggest impact was that it strengthened the foundation of teamwork. When a team is transparent, they work together and they work in a much more intelligent way. Employees develop deeper relationships with one another. Transparency needs to start at the top. When the leadership of the business is transparent, everyone else begins to form that bond. People begin to feel like they are part of something bigger rather than another cog in the wheel.

2) People are drawn to transparent companies.

Humans intuitively like transparency, as can be shown by our interaction with other people. As we get to know our friends, we gain more of a sense of transparency with them. You can’t be friends with someone without a certain level of transparency. The same logic applies to companies and online marketing. Business is done in a culture characterized by social transparency. With the rise of social media, people are expressing themselves more openly and publicly than they ever have before. As privacy is eroding, it is no longer seen as a positive for a company to be private. Corporations often leak the personal details of people, and hackers are often lauded rather than shamed. Transparency is now considered a virtue.

3) People trust transparent companies.

When your company is transparent, trust begins to grow. If a company or person doesn’t disclose information, they are not likely to be trusted. Transparency is a key part to allowing both consumers and employees to trust you. In fact, transparency has become so important that entire organizations exist for the purpose of upholding it. This is because the trust that comes from transparency defeats corruption.

So how exactly does one go about transparency?

For a business to obtain transparency, its people need to be transparent first. Leaders need to embody it and encourage it within their team members. One company that does this well is Credit Karma. Ken Lin, the Founder and CEO of Credit Karma, ensures that the entire board report is shown at all-hands meetings.

There are a few things a transparent company will be upfront about. It’s important to be transparent about the price of the product or service. It’s also good to be transparent about guarantees. Be upfront about mistakes and successes. Every person or company makes mistakes, and people will respect you more if you own up to those mistakes. You should also be transparent about unsatisfied customers. There is no point in trying to silence the people who complain about your company because they’ll ultimately vent on social media anyway. Instead you should deal with the situation in an open and honest way. It’s also a good idea to be transparent about change. If your company is changing the business model, or any other aspect of the business, declare these changes openly.

Overall, transparency is the key to developing trust with your employees and with your consumers. If you aren’t being open or honest, your business will not do well. Transparency creates a more positive and productive culture in which people love the work they’re doing.

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