I often wonder where narrow-mindedness comes into play in being a business owner. The answer is not often if you really want to be successful. When I started in business some thirty years ago, I was the most closed-lipped, narrow-minded person compared to today. While I did a decent job of listening to others, I did not share a lot about my business. While this offered some advantages at the time, in my mind, I learned a bit later in my career that this type of mindset had major disadvantages. I realized that my employees’ own performance was hampered by the self-inflicted exclusion, which I created. While many knew a lot about me, they really did not know much about the company and our vision.
With a little reading, some mentoring, and armed with some aged earned wisdom…I learned the word ‘transparent. What I learned in reading was a transparent company culture delivers more results. While getting there can be a challenge because it is normal for entrepreneurs to struggle with giving up control and sharing more than ever before. While I continually asked myself, what is a transparent culture going to do for my company and me? I slowly worked on understanding the values of this type of cultural mindset and saw my business also slowly evolving to a new level. Here’s what I really learned…
By definition, transparent culture is a work culture where employees rigorously communicate with their peers and exchange ideas and thoughts, which gradually builds trust and pride. It involves everyone in the company in making decisions and accepting responsibility for how the company is run, making sure they have the knowledge, information, and education to properly read and interpret data, and showing people they have a stake in the outcomes they produce.
Historically, the term “transparency” rarely has been used in the context of organizations. In other disciplines, such as architecture, engineering, and technology, transparency is commonly understood as used. In current management literature, various definitions exist for organizational transparency, which really makes the point — a condition opposite of secrecy. “Secrecy means deliberately hiding your actions; transparency means deliberately revealing them,” explains Ann Florini at The End of Secrecy. The deliberate attempt to move from a secretive or opaque organization encourages open access to information, participation, and decision-making, which ultimately creates a higher level of trust among stakeholders.
While some management professionals still refute the real benefits of a transparent culture, many management professionals swear by it. Companies with a more transparent culture tend to see employee engagement increased, sales, quality, and profits rise because everyone focuses on goal-based initiatives.
The four core values of business transparency
2. Transparency embodies honesty and open communication because to be transparent, someone must be willing to share information when it is uncomfortable to do so.
3. Transparency is an individual being honest with him or herself about the actions they are taking.
4. Transparency is also the organization being upfront and visible about its actions and whether those actions are consistent with its values.
In closing, the most innovative companies I’ve seen (big and small) combine selective transparency with a strong ideology about the nature of their business, in other words knowing what they want to build and validating that with a well-defined group of employees that bring value to the end-user.
Looking for a good book on the subject, suggested reading;
- The Visionary Leader: How to inspire success from the top down.
- Susan Bagyura (Author), Michael E. Gerber (Foreword), Fiona Dempsey (Illustrator)