Part I: Humanizing Workplace Culture Through Transparency

Cultivate a culture of transparency via communication and sharing information

If you missed the Introduction to our series on Humanizing Workplace Culture, click here to read it!

“We have a need to commu­nicate and share what we do and how we each do it diffe­rently. We work better in the open. Transparency has value for the organ­ization.”Maddie Grant

Understanding what people want and how to meet their needs in the workplace is critical if businesses are to remain competitive and succeed.  It is especially important for leadership in organizations to ensure they are closely involved in cultivating values like transparency at the workplace.

I don’t know about you, but I value the truth. I believe the most honest connections are made through authentic communication. Glenn Llopis (author and Forbes contributor) puts it well, “transparency allows relationships to mature faster, as openness can potentially avoid misunderstandings that can fuel unnecessary tension.” Whether good or bad, the more you know the easier it is to make decisions and work together towards what matters.

Transparency, then, is valuable for the organization and the people who work there.  Openness helps achieve trust, and places value on people, humanizing the work experience.  But how does one create this openness? Creating opportunities to communicate what you are working on and sharing even small, daily accomplishments with peers and managers is one sure-fast way to cultivate a culture of transparency.

Openness engages people at work

We all want our efforts to be valued and recognized – it is an innate human desire. In work settings where open communication occurs, people feel their voice is being heard and in return, are more eager to share ideas which may help an organization and themselves prosper.

Meg Whitman, CEO at Hewlett-Packard, hit the nail on the head when discussing transparency in the workplace. She wrote, “For any company to be successful today, it must ensure that all of the organization’s stakeholders – from employees, to customers, to investors – have a clear line of sight into the company’s strategy and performance, good or bad.”  When leaders take this initiative, it encourages people to engage and share.

Millennials want transparency

Transparency is also an important value millennials want in a leader. They want to work for someone who is “real” and not afraid to share information. Leaders need to ensure they are providing work environments which are conducive to open and transparent communication. When this happens, trustworthy relationships are built which create value not only for the organization, but for the people who work there.

Here are some helpful suggestions on what you can do at your organization to foster work transparency and humanize the workplace culture:

Create a transparent work process

One way to create and maintain a sense of transparency is to track and share what you’re working on.  By keeping a work journal of your daily tasks and sharing progress with your team, it allows peers and managers to see your accomplishments or ‘small wins’ (Check out our previous post on Small Wins). This will also help alleviate poor communication within the team which can impact many things including collaboration, efficiency, morale and progress.

Provide frequent two-way feedback

Communication is a key driver of engagement.   Frequent face-to-face, open communication time between both managers and employees will help improve interpersonal connections, by building trust and understanding between both parties.  Take time to socialize and have ‘check-in’ conversations.  Building a long lasting culture of engaged employees requires regular, transparent two-way communication.

Build culture

A company is only as strong as the people who work for it. Establishing a positive and supportive company culture is crucial if they are to thrive. Host weekly team lunches or monthly team-building activities. Proof Branding, a branding company, recently added a “power wall” in their office as a way to keep everyone focused on what they are all working towards. The wall message conveys common values to help keep employees engaged.


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Take action

Lead by example through your actions. “What you communicate by your actions – the things that are visible to 320,000 people – makes a real difference,” stated Meg Whitman in The Power of Transparent Communication. She explains the first thing she did when starting at Hewlett-Packard (HP) was tear down the “commando fence” – a large fence outfitted in barbed wire surrounding their executive parking lot – that kept everyone divided and moved all executives into cubicles. This decision created a symbol of the open culture the company needed.

Lack of action, or follow through, can be disastrous to a transparency initiative. Employees are unlikely to embrace a new process unless they see their managers doing the same. Encourage your team to be open and honest by setting the standard.

Invest in your organization’s most important asset: its people

The importance of building a transparent culture where people are kept in the loop, encouraged to share their progress, feel included and valued in their work lives cannot be emphasized enough.  It keeps people tied and connected to their organization and work and in turn helps them thrive, and their companies flourish.  It’s clear how critical it is to take time to communicate and invest in your organization’s most important asset: its people – the ones who create value.  Workplace transparency therefore builds trust and values the people who work there.  This humanizes work and fosters happiness and drives success for all.

Be sure to check in with us next week when we discuss the importance of investing in your talent’s professional growth and development in Part II of our series of Humanizing Workplace Culture.

-Lolly Fitzpatrick

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