Over the past several years in the public and private organizational worlds, there has been an increasing cry for transparency in how decisions are made and carried out. There are thousands of articles and books on the subject of transparency – especially related to the corporate environment and government sectors – that promote the implementation of transparency methods at all levels of the organization. And although I am not a research scientist nor have I spent much time in reviewing the implications of transparency, it doesn’t take much to recognize that using the word ‘transparency’ in your organizational communication is viewed as a positive characteristic in the eyes of the general public. However, as a leader and a manager, I really struggle with what level of genuine transparency can really be achieved before it becomes just another manipulation tool to persuade the perception of others.
For an organization, one definition of transparency says it is basically a metaphor implying visibility in contexts related to the behavior of individuals or groups. Another business definition says transparency is a lack of hidden agendas and conditions…and also it can be considered an essential condition for a free and open exchange whereby the rules and reasons behind regulatory measures are fair and clear to all participants. Now, maybe it’s just me…but when was the last time “rules of regulatory measures” seemed clear to you? In some instances like this, even if all the information is published and made available for everyone to see…it is still difficult to comprehend exactly what is occurring. So, do you think managers who put out such information purposefully do so with the intent to confuse us or make it difficult to understand? Do you believe that when a company says it is making decisions in a transparent fashion for employees to see how decisions are made…that those same employees are actually seeing everything there is to see?
As leaders, one of our challenges within the organization is to change the behavior of our employees, as needed, in order to reach our intended goals and objectives. Therefore, if leaders are aware that the decisions and actions being taken are going to be transparent to their employees, then leaders will take additional time to carefully plan how to be “transparent” in order to best change those behaviors that will move the organization toward its goals. So…is that using transparency skills or manipulation skills? That’s a good question and definitely an area I plan to explore and research in the future. But for now…here are just a few ways a manager can best display transparency in carrying out his or her responsibilities:
- Be honest about what you know…and what you don’t know
- Be responsive to inquiries from your employees…and communicate information regularly
- Really listen to what your employees have to say…without interjecting your own opinion
- Be open about plans for the future…and how those plans may affect your employees
These four simple actions will speak volumes to your employees and will move you forward in being more transparent, as well as a more trusted and respected leader within your organization. Take time this week to look at ways you can modify some of the small things you are currently doing in order to become more transparent to those around you as you mark your spot. Give me your thoughts about transparency…is it real or fake? Is it good or bad? Is 100% transparency even possible for a company to attain? Leave your comment below and have a great day!