For leaders, decision makers and HR, trust in business can be a challenge to build and maintain. One of the biggest issues facing HR and employers today is the gap between pay grades, and how trust in the business fades when these differences are hidden from employees. This affects employee motivation and engagement within the business. How can you expect your employees to be engaged and utilize their potential if they don’t believe that their leaders have their best interests in mind? Being transparent across your business will rebuild trust and encourage employees to re-engage with the business.
What is meant by transparency?
As mentioned within our blog about the Four Enablers of Employee Engagement, we mentioned the importance of your organization’s Strategic Narrative and Integrity. It is this openness about the direction your company is heading that defines transparency. If future prospects are shrouded in secrecy, then employees can become uncertain about their place within the business and ultimately become disengaged. Transparency is being open about challenges and widening the conversation to your employees. At its heart, transparency is about trust; for your employees to trust you as leaders, there must be a level of trust invested in them and their ability to aid your business.
From Ego to Eco
Transparency creates opportunity through lines of new conversation. There are possibilities to tap into resources that had previously been hidden. Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer at MIT and author of Theory U and Leading from an Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies, explains that business leaders need to change from ‘ego to eco’ and observe their practices from all perspectives so that decision-makers can approach choices from an open-minded and informed outlook. This ‘eco’ approach to transparency creates a community that invites your employees to contribute. The resultant feeling of belonging promotes trust, because employees feel that their potential is valued. Your organization receives a return on this investment through the increased productivity and contributions from an engaged employee. Through these lines of communication, transparency promotes unintentional recognition, because employees feel as though their roles are contributing to the wider goals of the organisation. Transparency is a key proponent to fulfilling all the Four Enablers, promoting a line of communication from the top down. Without this level of communication ‘a leader’s ability to lead is curtailed – often resulting in a commanding leadership style or an environment of indifference or contempt’ and ultimately heightens levels of disengagement.
Transparency and Trust in the Future Workplace
With the future workplace looking more and more dispersed than before, there is a mutual need for trust between both employee and employer. Leaders must trust their employees to use their freedom productively, and employees must trust that their opinions are heard by the organisation, despite not always visibly seeing the effects of them. If mutual trust is established, then even remote employees will feel that their work holds the same value as it would if they were immersed in the office culture . A cycle can then be created; productivity increases because of engagement, higher productivity allows for more trust between management and remote workers, thus sustaining itself.
Benefiting from Transparency
Transparency is generated through various lines of communication. It is about understanding what your employees require from you and being open with what you require from them. This creates a community of employees who can contribute whilst feeling valued and in turn will be motivated to achieve more in their roles. Transparency reveals opportunities that were previously shut due to no information driving bottom-up innovation.