When you think of transparency, you usually default to the communication aspect: telling everyone what’s happening or admitting when you’ve made a mistake. These are needed, but not only. To some means to disclosure decisions only. To others means to evolve the team in the discussion of something that will affect them.
There are many definitions for organizational transparency, one of which really makes the point — a condition opposite of secrecy. “Secrecy means deliberately hiding your actions; transparency means deliberately revealing them,” explains Ann Florini in The End of Secrecy.
I see three core values
- Transparency is about information. It is about the ability of the receiver to have full access to the information he/she wants, not just the information the sender is willing to provide.
- Transparency embodies open communication because to be transparent someone must be willing to share information when it is uncomfortable to do so.
- Transparency is an individual being honest with himself about the actions they are taking.
At Airbnb was about implementing a RACI model
Everingham, Head of Engineering at Airbnb has written a must-read article on how boosting transparency had tremendously positive results in the employee’s satisfaction surveys. When he joined, there was a feeling that decisions sometimes roll on down from the nutshell of the leadership team. Instead, they have pulled back the curtain on how decisions are made, putting some process and principles behind it so there is no mysterious black box that only creates speculation.
In his case, it was something so powerful as setting up a simple RACI model for assigning roles and making decisions where are established clear roles with single accountable owners. That way you make your decision-making understandable, consistent and repeatable. Plus, you ensure people understand who is the single person making a particular decision.
No more shared responsibility. No more gray areas where people don’t know to which door they should knock for information, some extra context or simply to influence.
While some management still refutes the real benefits of a transparent culture, stating the organizational culture is not ready others see it as the core foundation to see employee engagement increased.
Being transparent in professional life is not easy. It can make us vulnerable in the event of opening the game too soon. We are more likely to be transparent when there is an established trust. Works like a virtuous cycle that feeds himself.
Transparency is a choice. It is the deliberate attempt to move from a secretive or opaque organization to one that encourages open access to information, participation, and decision-making, which ultimately creates a higher level of trust among stakeholders.