How to create a transparent workplace culture

‘It’s vital to combine transparency practices with a culture of trust and respect’

How to create a transparent workplace culture

The trend towards growing transparency is driven by social technologies and the need for data driven decision making, according to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director at AccessEAP.

“While it can improve your business reputation and bottom line, it’s vital to combine transparency practices with a culture of trust and respect,” said Slepica.

“The ability to have courageous conversations is essential for radical transparency to work effectively.”

“Radical transparency” is a controversial new workplace practice used to create a culture in which employees can view the performance of all of their colleagues and openly critique them.

The philosophy was developed by Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world.

The idea is to create a culture where employees could have “thoughtful disagreement,” and exchange controversial ideas without creating problems, a culture where people know it is important to regularly challenge one another’s views, regardless of rank.

The key to his company’s success has been achieved through openness and frank conversations in which people are willing to shift their opinions as they learn.

To be successful, businesses and leaders need to learn and grow but also be able to adapt.

READ MORE: Culture shock derails managers

According to Slepica, building courageous or frank conversations into the fabric of your organisation’s culture is a vital starting point.

“Acting with respect, integrity, allowing curiosity and collaboration will bring your organisation forward further and faster,” said Slepica.

“Courageous conversations can be daunting but will help gain the trust, respect and confidence of your employees. In a radically transparent workplace, all stakeholders have access to the data they need to make informed decisions.”

For leaders, radical transparency is a way to build trust with their teams.

Employees who have trust in their employer are far more likely to engage in beneficial actions on their behalf.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, they will advocate on behalf of their organisation (trust advantage of 39 points), are more engaged (33 points), remain more loyal (31 points) and are more committed (33 points).

This concept has been used by international businesses such as Netflix to drive these cultural benefits and overall growth.

READ MORE: 4 ways HR can help execute a culture change

However, radical transparency isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and it may not be right for every business.

But for organisation’s looking to create a more transparent workplace culture, Slepica offers some thoughts on what to consider.

Practice courageous conversations
Without a culture of trust and the ability to have courageous conversations, radical transparency simply won’t work. Most people recognise when there is a need for courageous conversations but that doesn’t make them any easier. Consider introducing training for leaders on the best way to approach these conversations. Simply following the correct process and being prepared will increase the likelihood of a timely and positive outcome.

It starts at the top
Like many business practices, in order for transparency to be effective, it needs to start with its leaders. Without authenticity on the part of the CEO, a company isn’t going to feel truly transparent and it will be glaringly obvious to employees and onlookers alike.

Encourage goal setting
With data available for inspection and analysis, employees should be encouraged to set measurable goals and objectives. Not only will this make each employee’s priorities and progress clearer, it should lead to better results for the company overall.

Don’t overshare
It’s important to remain cautious about what you put out and not to share every tiny company detail. Protecting legitimately secret information as well as the privacy of employees is still vitally important even in a radically transparent workplace.

Open communication
Make a conscious effort to reduce secrets and closed-door conversations within the organisation. Practice being honest and sharing with others. Encourage employees to talk about the organisation in responsible ways.

Implement practical changes
There are several simple, practical changes that can be implemented to help create more transparency from an open plan office to making the executive team’s calendars visible internally.

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