The future of work requires businesses to prioritize transparency. It is the key to building trust with employees and clients while meeting modern expectations. But in order to leverage the benefits, you must make transparency the foundation of your company culture.
Why? Culture influences habits and behaviors, and it also impacts many leadership teams' policies and decisions. When transparency is woven into your culture, it'll affect every aspect of your operations.
As employees and clients navigate the post-pandemic world, you must make greater strides to maintain a transparent company culture. Here's what other leaders are doing to boost transparency in their own businesses:
1. Set clear goals that are built in collaboration with teams: Bob Marsh, chief revenue officer at Bluewater
Difficulties quickly arise when handing down goals from the top of the organizational chart, explains Marsh. It can leave employees feeling in the dark about how their contributions fit within your business strategies and questioning whether they have ownership over their own work. Resistance will soon follow, and you may find yourself dealing with a host of issues (e.g., departmental silos, employee disengagement, rote executions) as a result.
“When everyone is involved and has a voice, it's much easier to get everyone behind achieving results as a team,” says Marsh. “Once the goals are set, then transparency is needed to help people understand where they stand as a team so they can celebrate success or course correct together.”
Marsh also believes that such an approach to goal-setting helps establish a coaching culture, as managers are clear on objectives and can explain how the day-to-day work contributes to results.
Transitioning to a collaborative approach to goal-setting isn’t without its challenges. You must find a balance. Bringing your full team together for goal development isn’t about creating a consensus, according to Marsh. You don’t abandon something just because an employee disagrees with what’s been proposed. Input is important and can help shape your decisions. It may even bring to light an idea that would otherwise go unnoticed. But leadership has the ultimate say in the final decision.
2. Provide clients with practical advice from a place of deep expertise: Barbie Adler, founder and president of Selective Search
As the leader of a matchmaking company, Adler understands the importance of building a business on integrity, transparency, and trust. Clients put their trust in her team to help them find love, which means they must feel comfortable sharing the most intimate aspects of their lives. And because clients rely on Selective Search team members for their expert advice, holding back won't lead to success.
Transparent advice should be woven into your service, as well as every interaction a client has with your brand. Adler’s team demonstrates this through ongoing coaching sessions with the company’s client base.
“Once we begin working with a client, our Meet Your Future™ process brings an even deeper level of transparency to the relationship with clearly defined steps, comprehensive timelines, and detailed documentation of progress,” says Adler. “As clients work closely with their matchmakers, the meaningful impact of transparency becomes even more apparent through our ongoing coaching sessions. These open discussions provide valuable, direct, and honest feedback to identify dating trends and patterns that could be getting in the way of long-term relationship success.”
3. Develop strong processes to establish expectations with team members and partners: T. Scott Law, founder and CEO of Zotec Partners
The most effective way to build transparency into business is to do it through your processes, according to Law.
“Through strong processes, our internal team members and external partners know exactly what to expect from us and when to expect it,” he says. “Because of these processes, our healthcare provider clients have clarity into the complete financial experience. And with that transparency comes trust, alignment, and overall satisfaction and success—a true partnership.”
Building, validating, and evangelizing processes requires a methodology, according to Law. At Zotec, team members: (1) document what they do, (2) ensure they understand the process and recognize its overall significance, and (3) hold themselves accountable for proper implementation.
Law certainly recognizes the provisional nature of processes. The Zotec team is always looking for ways to improve its processes as technology and talent change within the organization. With strong processes in place, it’s rare that something gets off track. When it does, Law explains that you can more easily adapt and adjust accordingly. Processes are in the middle of people and technology for a reason—they hold the two together.
4. Build operational transparency through internal and external communication: Shobhana Viswanathan, chief marketing officer at Mavim
To Viswanathan, creating operational transparency requires effective communication. Leadership teams should be sharing revenue goals, budgets, and business strategies with employees to drive performance and strengthen commitment. They should also communicate the mission, values, and purpose of a company—not to mention the value of products or services—with clients and partners.
“I run a global team spread across three continents spanning marketing and business development,” says Viswanathan. “It’s important for me to communicate the business goals and strategy to the team so I can build trust and get the best performance. Transparency can help the team feel included and committed to business goals and empowered even when times are difficult.”
Transparency doesn’t mean sharing every single detail, of course. Leaders should know when to share and when to hold things back. Effective communication means achieving a balance and providing context for decisions. That way, people can see for themselves why things are the way they are. Internally, Viswanathan holds regular town hall meetings to encourage questions, facilitate discussions, and foster trust. She also employs the scrum methodology to help identify pain points, manage change, come to solutions, and so on.
Transparency is what employees and clients expect from businesses these days. By following the advice of these four leaders, you can build better transparency into your business and maximize your success.
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