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Incorporating Transparency in Leadership

More people are looking for transparency in leadership in all walks of life, whether in politics or the workplace. Employees want to know who, what, when, where and why, primarily when decisions affect them. They want to trust that those making decisions are looking at the big picture and taking their interests into account. 

While the push for more transparency may cause leaders to feel stressed, they don’t need to vet or check every decision, as that is virtually impossible. 

Some decisions can be made with relatively little to no input, while other more important decisions may require extensive research, analysis, discussion and consideration. It’s also the areas in between that can draw even more criticism and create problems, so leaders should practice transparency to help maintain employees’ trust.

Leadership Transparency: Quick Case Study

With COVID-19, a lot of businesses are reducing hours or closing their doors. If executive leadership in a company determines the best financial course of action is to reduce employee work hours, this needs transparent implementation. 

What Happens with Top-Down Decisions That Lack Transparency

No matter how executives communicate their decision, it will be unpopular with employees. One person in a leadership position usually clearly communicates the decision to all employees, fending any questions that may arise, such as:

  • What was the decision involved in reducing hours?
  • How did leadership come to this decision?
  • Who was involved in deciding to reduce hours?

Do not blindside managers with public announcements. It damages the respect between managers and their employees. In turn, managers resent leadership for making quick decisions without receiving any input from them. It makes managers feel set up to fail because their teams stop having faith in them and lose all trust. All too soon, employee morale tanks and leadership is left wondering why. It’s simple: because the decision blindsided everyone.

Implementing Transparency

There’s a better way to deliver bad news to managers and employees to avoid these issues. A strong, positive culture that revolves around leadership and having effective communication is a necessary foundation for growing and maintaining a company. 

Here are the top two ways to successfully implement transparency at work.

  1. Frequent Sharing – The right frequency of sharing sensitive information to ensure that employees are aware of any ongoing issues and any emerging issues. It doesn’t mean notifying employees about every single decision, but it’s best to avoid blindsiding them with major decisions that they didn’t foresee possibly coming. Keeping people in the loop can make a huge difference in how employees react to the news.
  2. Feedback – Simply sharing a one-way street, also doesn’t make employees feel better about decisions, so it’s vital to collect and listen to employees to gain more clarity and understanding. Constructive feedback and discussion can often highlight new perspectives or even reveal alternative options that might work better for the company in the short and long-term. Few things in the workplace destroy employee morale more than not considering their feedback. 

Having a good company culture that revolves around transparency can help benefit companies in our current COVID-19 world and post-pandemic. Use this opportunity to create a healthy workplace culture where employees feel valued.


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