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The Organizational Grand Slam: Transparency (Part 3 of 3)

The Organizational Grand Slam: Transparency (Part 3 of 3)

Transparency may be low at your company – but you know it’s critical for effective teams. Here’s what you can do about it.   

Numerous studies indicate that transparency at work is the number one factor influencing their degree of happiness at work. Yet we’re all familiar with work environments where transparency isn’t on the list of values. Decision making appears to follow a black box process, team input is commonly disregarded, and getting useful information is a daily treasure hunt. We all take cues on the appropriate level of workplace transparency from our colleagues, but this doesn’t mean that we have to perpetuate that lack of transparency. And we know that transparency is a crucial ingredient to team collaboration. So how do you provide transparency in a work environment where it may not be appreciated?

One key step is to set up a microvision. Organizational vision provides the requisite gravity that prevents everything from floating off into space. With vision, we know which way is up, and we understand – at least at the highest level – how decisions are made. If your organization’s vision is less than clear or remains unarticulated, you might consider setting a microvision for your team or department. Stating your end goal and capturing the values you hold most dearly can give your team adequate transparency to transcend the organizational status quo. (Protip: set aside time with your team to work collaboratively on your microvision, and you’re all but guaranteed to observe far greater ownership and engagement.) 

Use transparent work process tools. We explored this idea a bit last week, acknowledging that workflow applications can throw open the window on how work gets done. This allows team members to anticipate events and plan more effectively. If your organization has your IT on lockdown on new apps, you might consider increasing transparency in the apps currently in use. For instance, if having no visibility to your colleagues’ Outlook calendars is de rigeur in your office, consider promoting calendar sharing to ‘free/busy’ or ‘all details’ visibility. This step will move your team’s effectiveness miles ahead with zero investment and doesn’t require permission from above.  Click here to learn how to share calendars.   

Transparency is also promoted by more frequent check-ins with your team members. This is less about ramping up the number of official meetings and more about creating opportunities to chat informally, to hear what’s on their minds. Leaders everywhere love the phrase ‘my door is always open’. Effective leaders don’t have time to wait for their reports to come to their office. They walk through that open door and go talk to their teammates about what’s going on, process improvements, and potential pitfalls. Such events don’t have to appear planned, but good leaders know that providing ample opportunity for receiving feedback is a great way to increase transparency to those in your department. Check out this awesome HBR article about how to listen to your employees. 

Effective leaders know the value of transparency and have an arsenal of tools to promote it in any environment. If you’ve got awesome transparency-building tools of your own not mentioned here, we’d love to hear about them. In the meantime, spend a few moments today exploring how you can let in the sunshine at your workplace, and watch your team sprout like never before. 

It’s possible that your company isn’t the kind of employer that would put transparency at the top of its list of values – but that doesn’t mean that you have to embrace the same attitude. There are plenty of opportunities for you to increase the transparency for those you manage, and even to shed some light by ‘leading up’ as a team member. We’ll take a close look at these strategies next week. 

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Mark Brodbeck, MSW
mark.brodbeck@ementorconnect.com

Director of Marketing at eMentorConnect. Passionate about people intent on elevating others, and other examples of enlightened self-interest. Frank Sinatra said it best: 'It's one world, pal. We're all neighbors.'