Everyone, on some level, wants to be depended upon. Even if you don’t have the desire to lead, you have the desire to be an important piece of the puzzle, an integral part of something bigger than yourself.
In the workplace, this is especially true for millennials, who are more driven by transparency and meaningful work than any generation before them. In fact, half of millennials say they’d take a pay cut in exchange for work that matches their values, while 90 percent want to use their skills for good causes. As for the matter of transparency, Engine reports millennials want performance feedback from their managers 71 times a year!
Organizational Transparency Drives Performance
Today, transparency is much more than a buzzword — it is how you drive alignment across an entire organization. If you want your team acting as a single unit focused on achieving shared goals, you need to first be transparent about what those goals are. When you share high-level objectives and key results, team members feel integral to success, and they gain a clear understanding of how their performance directly impacts the organization.
Don’t stop at organization-wide goals. Help individual team members get a clear idea of what is expected of them. Employees are happy to shoulder a large burden as long as they know exactly what they are trying to achieve and why it matters.
Increased transparency also empowers your top performers. In happy, high-functioning organizations, no team works in secrecy. Each team and department knows what the others are working toward, which allows for increased collaboration between these groups. This structure empowers top performers to step in and lend a hand whenever possible — even outside of their “official” purviews.
Admit When You’ve Made Mistakes
Cultivating a transparent organization requires personal transparency and humility from leaders. When you make mistakes or miss your goals, let your team know. Own what you’ve done wrong, ask for help, and make plans to improve. This will create a culture of honesty in which team members at all levels own their mistakes and seek help when needed. When employees see that transparency and the desire to improve matter most, their morale is likely to get a boost.
Also, your humility will earn you more respect from team members, who will see that you are not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.
“As a startup founder, I saw employees light up, become more engaged, and make decisions more confidently when they had transparency of information,” says ontological coach Philip Soriano. “As a change management consultant, I’ve seen many different organizations and team dynamics at play. The more effective and frankly successful organizations share information in all directions — upward and downward, but also horizontally, the most commonly missed direction.”
Each organization has a purpose and goals to rally behind, and employees yearn to be part of that mission. A culture of transparency and purpose can cause employees to cooperate more and be more productive. While the process of becoming a more transparent organization may induce feelings of vulnerability and stress in the short term, the long-term quantitative and qualitative results will all be worth it.
Jonathan Smalley is CEO and founder of Yaguara.