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Workplace Ethics #10 Transparency

Yesterday after the post I shared, a friend engaged me in a candid discussion about accountability and transparency in the work place. Her concern had more to do with how much information should a person disclose about themselves in the workplace versus how much should information’s should a company share with its stakeholders including the staff. I must say it was a very insightful discussion and so today I shall share some of the highlights that stood out from that conversation.
I have had the privilege of starting my own company after eight years of working with other non-profit organizations. I am forever grateful for the exposure and experiences that I gained in my previous years because they laid a foundation on which I built my own organization. I worked in an organization where much of the organizational information was top secret, you basically only knew what you were meant to do and that was it. To this day I can’t tell you what the strategy of the organization was.
I also worked in an organization that was more transparent and liberal with organizational information. As staff, we were in the know about all the funds raised, the strategic plan, donor relations and future plans for the organization. As a matter of fact, were involved in each of these organizational activities which gave us a sense of ownership and loyalty for the organization.
When I started my own organization, I wanted to emulate my former experience of transparency and yet I struggled with the limits more so in the infant stages of the organization when a lot of things are not yet certain. It seems that everyone is calling for more transparency, but there is little discussion about what it truly means to be a transparent organization.
Often times, employers find themselves in a dilemma with how much company information they should give out. On the one hand, employers who are upfront and honest with their employees usually yield an atmosphere of trust, productivity and better employee engagement. However, too much transparency can lead to a competitive disadvantage for the company, risk of a negative public image and less company data security. So how do we find the right balance?
As business and team leaders we may feel that communicating openly is disarming. You’re showing your cards, and therefore your “power” as a leader. Whether times are good or bad, a leader that communicates transparently will actually earn the trust of their employees. It is empowering for an organization to work together in pursuit of a common goal.
Depending on the size of your organization, full disclosure isn’t always possible. Maintaining open communication and encouraging employees to express their thoughts (positive or negative) can prevent misunderstanding.  Employees can work more efficiently when they have the ability to discuss their views. When information is shared within, company goals and objectives can be easily supported. By bring employees to the conversation, employees can understand what they need to do in order for the company to succeed.
Ultimately, promoting transparency is a continual practice. Show your employees that you value their input and trust them with both good and not so great news. You might be surprised by how they rise to the occasion. I have tried it and I know that this strategy does work however scaring it might seem at the beginning, in the end it is worth every effort.

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