We live in the “trust” economy. Trust is the foundation of business-building and the desired outcome of establishing good relationships with your partners, peers, employers, customers, teams, and the brands that you endorse every day.
The speed, quality, and quantity of information available to us changes the way we do business. It changes the way we collaborate with others and who we decide to choose as a partner, employer, employee, customer, supplier, or peer. In effect, the trust economy is also the transparent economy. We only do business with companies and organizations that are transparent with us. However, the availability of information alone does not build transparency. Here’s 3 ways to build transparency in your business:
1. Explain the rationale & thought process for your decisions. Leaders often communicate their decisions with politically-safe statements about the benefits of the decision that was made. However, they are missing two very important opportunities by not explaining how & why decisions are made as well as the influencing factors: (1) It offers a very good coaching/learning opportunity for your team if they really understand the rationale that influenced the decision and (2) It helps your team or partners understand the thought process for the decision, whether they agree with it or not. In effective, if stakeholders do not agree with the decision, you have an opportunity for their buy-in on the process that led you to making that decision.
2. Confront the contentious aspects of a decision head-on. Leaders often fall into the trap of disguising or withholding information that most others “already know” as the primary reasons for why decisions are made. Big companies are especially guilty of this and the “real reason” for a decision or course of action is already widely known. To build transparency (and trust), it’s important for leaders to tackle the tough issues head-on and ensure all stakeholders are fully understanding of what goes into a decision. A good example is leaders who take over after a company crisis to “clean up” and turn things around. Transparency in these situations helps them get out of the crisis (sometimes it’s a lack of transparency that gets the company into the crisis in the first place). Having said this, there are decisions that are made and information disclosures where privacy & confidentiality are critical to protect key stakeholders/parties.
3. Let people know where you stand. If you are looked upon to make some decisions or provide direction, it’s critical that those affected know where you stand at that moment in time. Many leaders are guilty of ignoring communications or avoiding meetings until they know what direction they will take. This often leads to frustration, second-guessing, speculation, politics and a whole host of unproductive behaviors around them. If key stakeholders inside & outside the organization are provided with clarity on the current stance of a decision, issue, or business challenge, then more productive behaviors start to emerge. First, clarity in business is critical from a leadership & <future> buy-in perspective. Second, greater respect is earned even if where you stand is not in agreement or alignment with other stakeholders. Third, more useful information & productive behaviours will start to emerge. People will focus their energy on the key issues or move on to other matters until you are ready for the next step.
Transparency is not only good for business, it’s mandatory for business in the trust economy. Lack of information or direction is not good for business and affects relationships, productivity, and more importantly, your integrity as a leader.
Transparency = Clarity + Communication