6 Ideas for Creating a Culture of Transparency

You might have heard how Google provides transparency reports showing open information about laws and policies affecting its users.

Some companies take transparency a step further, providing open access to company revenue, equity, and even employee salaries — like social media management company, Buffer, for example.

This month, Buffer just announced the newest addition to its transparent company culture: transparent pricing. This shows customers exactly what their money is used for when subscribing. The breakdown reveals everything from money used for subscription costs to money allocated for specific employees’ salaries — so you know the name of the person whose salary you are helping to fund.

“Transparency has a unique potential to empower and inspire a team that it has largely transformed how we run Buffer,” Buffer’s CEO, Joel Gascoigne, stated in a blog post introducing the company’s open salary policy. “Transparency breeds trust, and trust is the foundation of great teamwork.”

A healthy, transparent company culture positively impacts retaining and onboarding new hires into their roles, too. When new hires learn they can trust whom they work with early on, they acclimate more quickly.

“Transparency has a unique potential to empower and inspire a team that it has largely transformed how we run Buffer.” – Joel Gascoigne

Here are a few ongoing training and communication opportunities that can help you promote transparency and align goals within your organization:

 

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1. Encourage Knowledge-Sharing

No matter what level your employees are at in your company, each has unique knowledge they can use to teach one another. Encourage your employees to share their best tips, tricks, and methods for completing tasks with one another.

Provide them with a place, like an intranet, and the tools to do so, too. They can use the intranet to create guide documents and training content both new hires and existing employees can use to learn a new skill and grow.

2. Encourage and Reward Employee One-on-One Time

Organizing all employees in the same place at the same time is nearly impossible, especially if employees work in different locations or time zones. But a culture of transparency requires the sharing of ideas, plans, and actions taken. Even when the whole team can’t meet up, smaller groups or even two employees can meet with one another.

Encourage employees to meet with one another on a regular basis, either in-person or virtually through video chat. Make one-on-ones with other employees part of the culture through mentoring, job shadowing and coaching.

During meetings, employees can discuss challenges, improvements, and what they’re working on. A pair of employees can keep one another accountable and look out for signs the other has gotten off track of his or her goals. Reward employees who regularly engage in one-on-one time.

No matter what level your employees are at in your company, each has unique knowledge they can use to teach one another.

3. Ask Trainees to Provide Feedback About Their Trainer

One of the key elements in transparency is feedback. Employees need to share with management and one another the strengths and areas of opportunity of an organization so it can make improvements. That includes the quality of its leaders, trainers, and other employees.

When a new hire comes on board, he or she has fresh eyes to experience what the organization has to offer in terms of helping a professional grow and develop his or her career. Ask your new hires, or anyone who experiences training to provide feedback about their trainer based on qualities like knowledge, skill, and helpfulness. Ensure feedback is open so everyone can see who the high performing employees are and feel motivated to adopt those qualities.

4. Enable File Sharing

One way to ensure transparency within an organization is to use a content management system where all company documents and papers can be accessed by employees. This applies to allowing employees to see all of the behind the scenes information like company finances and investments, but also involves employees being able to see the different projects others are working on, which may inspire a learning opportunity.

5. Share Goals

Develop a system where employees are encouraged to share their goals with one another. Have them write their goals down and keep one another accountable through progress reports, support and encouragement.

A study from the Dominican University of California found that writing down goals, sharing them with friends, and providing friends with regular updates about progress boosted participants chances of succeeding.

Questions inspire innovation and solutions to important problems that members of an organization may not even know exist.

6. Let Everyone Ask and Answer Questions

Questions inspire innovation and solutions to important problems that members of an organization may not even know exist. Create a place where employees can dialogue with one another to troubleshoot problems. Use an online forum or an instant messenger where new hires can send out a call for help and receive a quick response from a more knowledgeable team member. Existing employees who are advancing to a new roll or learning a new skill can use the Q&A system to solicit answers from subject experts, too.

The most important aspect of any of these methods is that everyone on the team has access to the information created and shared across the organization. Implementing more transparency into your company culture will encourage trust and open up more growth opportunities for your employees as they gain a better understanding of one another’s skill set, knowledge, goals, and the goals of the organization at large.

What are some ways you use transparency in your organization?

 

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Avi Singer

Avi Singer is the founder of showd.me, a social learning platform that allows employees to easily train and learn from other employees across an organization.

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  • David Sawyer

    “Questions inspire innovation and solutions to important problems that members of an organization may not even know exist.” – I love it. So true.

  • Rob D

    Shared projects across job descriptions works great to build appreciation among normally non-interacting skill sets. We created the planets first computerized pre-fire plans as a joint task, community project within a fire dept. Alarm Room Operators, Fire Fighters, Mechanics, and 9-5 daily admin all put in what they could, when they could, resulting in its development before everyones eyes, they all could take credit and pride in something that was a world first and laid groundwork for All that followed. Pride in self is one thing, but in those you work with/for is another all together.

    • Rob D

      At that time, I likened it to a community garden where everyones food came from. Secrecy easily hides lassitude and unintentional destructive mistakes, normally caught by anothers unbiased glance.

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