How to promote transparency in your business

Transparency in business is crucial for cultivating effective communication, honesty, and teamwork between colleagues. Without an authentic, transparent work environment, people are less likely to voice their opinions and show concern for the team which hinders a company’s growth and success.

Whether you’ve been in business for years or are still in the early startup stages, promoting transparency should always be a key part of the business.

What is transparency in business?

Transparency is used in business concepts to denote openness, accountability, clarity, and communication. It often guides a business’s policies of disclosure to both employees and customers.

A transparent business is happier and more productive because everyone on the team knows how to freely share information that empowers themselves and one another. Transparency allows knowledge to flow throughout the business, resulting in ideas that may not have otherwise come to light.

Making transparency a major part of your company’s culture builds trust and strengthens relationships at every level. When your workplace encourages honest, uninhibited conversation, individuals feel more invested in the company’s growth and success, which results in increased job performance and reduced employee turnover. Employees are more likely to collaborate, solve problems quickly and creatively, and share knowledge.

While developing transparency in business is easy when you focus on the task, maintaining it isn’t always that simple. That’s why it is so important to always promote transparency in your business.

Nine ways to promote business transparency

In today’s fast-paced work environment, cultivating a transparent business can fall by the wayside. Luckily, there are several things you can do to promote transparency and encourage employees to contribute.

1. Hire transparent employees. Transparent businesses start with open, communicative, accountable people. When building your team, hire employees who display attributes of transparency.

Do they seem engaged and open with their ideas about the business? What have they recently posted online? How much detail do they provide when answering your questions? Have their past employers mentioned any breaches in integrity? Can you see them representing your company, even after work hours?

Once you’ve hired a transparent team, continue to engage with them to promote transparency in the workplace.

2. Encourage open communication. Transparency is nothing without communication. Unless your employees feel they can approach you or each other with any problems or new ideas, your business can never achieve transparency.

Hold weekly meetings to keep the communication lines open. Even if your company operates out of a co-working space, reserve a conference room regularly to hold meetings and workshops. Doing so helps employees stay in the loop and gives everyone an opportunity to exchange ideas.

You should also promote candid conversations throughout the workday. Ask team members what’s on their minds, whether it’s about the direction of the company or a particular project. Be open to suggestions for improvement, and always show your team that you’re listening to their concerns.

3. Utilize social media proactively. Transparency between your business and the public is also essential for solidifying your company’s reputation and building customer loyalty. Thanks to social media, you can cultivate transparency online by keeping the public in the loop.

When you purposely use social media as a business tool, you open communication lines, cultivate brand loyalty, and see business results. Make sure to use the same company logo, voice, and other brand identifiers across social media platforms.

4. Eliminate titles. Employees are more likely to be transparent in business when they feel as if they are equals. Rather than have department managers and supervisors, what if each employee’s role was defined by her contributions?

Some companies have gone as far as eliminating the role of a single CEO, instead sharing the title in rotation with multiple executives. The Brazilian conglomerate Semco did this, referring to all other employees as “Associate,” and profits went up while costs fell.

Instead of giving employees titles, try grouping them into teams based on a project and have individuals take turns leading the team. Not only does this help improve transparency, but it also helps employees develop leadership skills. You can also ask employees to define their own titles.

5. Encourage honest feedback. A big part of encouraging honest feedback among your work culture is to demonstrate it yourself. Be open to constructive criticism, even if you are the company founder. Show employees how to receive and react to honest feedback by being a role model for it yourself.

You may also wish to hold training sessions that focus on how to give and receive constructive feedback. When both managers and employees know how to approach honest feedback, the entire business sees a boost in performance.

6. Create an open online forum. Along those same lines, having an online forum where employees can ask questions from the higher-ups or other team members without fear of retribution can contribute to transparency. This is especially true if you have remote workers or freelancers who need to feel part of the on-site community.

Building your open forum is as easy as starting a Facebook group for employees only. You can use this same forum to share information about upcoming events, meetings, and financial reports, just to keep everyone on the same page.

7. Share the news, both the good and the bad. There’s no transparency when employers hide bad news from employees. Executives may think they are doing everyone a favor, but nobody wants to be left out of crucial news regarding the company they’ve contributed to for years.

Keep your team informed about important issues, good or bad. Share any mistakes or unfortunate changes, even if it’s likely to cause anxiety for a few days. When your company is open with the entire team, everyone can better empathize with the business when it’s time to make those hard decisions.

8. Create an open work space. When you break down walls and remove barriers, people feel more equal. Rather than work from a private office or herd employees into cubicles, open up the office space.

Open-office floorplans have several benefits. They allow colleagues to interact with one another, increasing the sense of community, and they put managerial staff on the same level to make them more approachable. Although open offices can be distracting and cause problems, when done right, they cultivate a sense of teamwork and transparency like none else can.

Consider moving to a private open office inside a co-working space to reduce your company’s overhead and provide employees access to private and social spaces that help break up the monotony of the workday.

9. Socialize with coworkers. At the end of the day, people aren’t going to be as honest with strangers as they are with friends. This is where socialization plays a major role in maintaining transparency.

Regularly set aside a workday to schedule team-building events. This can take place on the last Friday of the month or a date every six months. Consider fun team activities like laser tag, bowling, or capture the flag to not only get everyone excited for the experience but also give them an outlet for showcasing leadership and communication skills.

Even if you can’t afford to devote an entire workday to team-building activities, make it a point to socialize with co-workers daily by going to lunch together or asking about a colleague’s family or personal interests.

You can even invite a small group of employees to lunch outside the office for a change to bounce ideas off the boss, or simply enjoy the reward if they prefer. This type of invitation works twofold: you get the chance to socialize with your team free from the constraints of the office, and you give everyone equal access to you. Providing access to yourself and other managers makes it easier for employees to approach the higher-ups and voice opinions.

When you create a fun, more social environment, employees will want to be open and honest for the benefit of each other and the good of the company.

Taking the steps to promote transparency within your business takes courage and determination, but the payoff is well worth it. Not only will you, the boss, learn more about your team and grow to appreciate their individual strengths, but employees learn to appreciate you, the business, and each other in ways you might never have considered. Everyone starts to make better, more balanced decisions from the founder to the newest hire. Stay committed to open communication and take small steps to make sure your company is known for its transparent culture.

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