How To Build Your Company On Transparency!
Is your company a transparent company? How do you know? How can you tell?
I talk a lot about how a transparent business culture can boost employee retention and foster goodwill between managers and employees. So, how do you pull this off?
A lot of companies and business owners like to tout that they run a transparent business. However, they are using a very shallow meaning of the word. Maybe they shared some data with the employees at a quarterly or yearly event, and they feel this is good enough to satisfy being transparent. However, in actuality, being a genuinely transparent company means you are open with your employees about most things that occur within your company on a daily basis.
If you are saying, “Wait a minute, I can’t share anything related to HR about people!”, Then I do agree. Yes, you can’t tell the real reason you fired an employee, and you can’t disclose the reason so and so hasn’t been at work for a few days. I am talking about transparency in the sense of talking to your employees about their jobs, direction of the company, providing frequent feedback to your employees, and sharing company health updates.
One thing that I have found in the Pakistani culture that is different than American culture is that people are quick to jump ship on a company if they so much as hear a rumor the company is not in good health. This lack of trust is due to so many companies in Pakistan folding very quickly and leaving employees high and dry without warning. This conditioning has lead Pakistanis to promptly search new jobs before they get released from their companies with no plan.
Back in our early days, I would hear rumors from guys that our own company wasn’t doing well. I found these rumors funny yet maddening. Funny in a sense that I was the ONLY person that knew the financial state of our company, so how in the world could anyone else have any idea about it. Maddening because that person would cause others to panic and we would get surprise resignations for no reason. What would happen is that guys would see that we either fired a developer, or that our sales were slow and then they would start to hit the panic button. They would run and tell all the other developers that the company is not well, time to find another job. I learned very quickly as a business owner dealing in Pakistan that I had to stay ahead of rumors and the only way to do that was to be transparent.
I learned very quickly as a business owner dealing in Pakistan that I had to stay ahead of rumors and the only way to do that was to be transparent.
We don’t face these rumors anymore for a few reasons. 1.) Our company history is long, consistent and prosperous. People are silly to question the company at this point because we have so many employees that have been with the company going on 6 or 7 plus years. Everyone can look around and see the longevity and the stability, so there isn’t a need to question if my company is some fly by night organization that is here one day and gone the next. 2.) I have an open door policy and a no-rumor policy in my organizations. If I hear of someone spreading rumors, I go to them immediately and quickly dispel the rumor, and then I question why they started it.
Rumors in Pakistan spread quickly and furiously, so as a business owner in Pakistan you have to stay ahead of them. The only correct way to do this is also to have an open door policy. Invite people to come to you and ask you themselves about the state of the company or their job security. Be honest with them and tell them where you need their help. If you are honestly struggling financially, then tell them creatively that things could be better and ask for their help in making things better. If you have done a magnificent job of being a leader, then people are more willing to volunteer extra time to help you. Maybe they will take on some other projects on their own time that earn morning for the company.
Why was it in my nature to be clear right from the start with my employees? Yes, it has to do with being real. I do not have the energy, time nor the know-how to be someone that I am not. I can’t pretend to be a bigger fish than I am or have more money than I do. You don’t see me posting images of myself standing in front of a corporate jet, or in front of a Ferrari, that’s because I don’t have those things. Could I afford them, maybe, but why would I buy those depreciating assets? You see my videos, where I am in my 2012 Chevy Pick-up truck, and I’m happy about that. Since I am “REAL,” I want to lead a “REAL” company. I want people around me that are “REAL.” When you have built a company on “REALNESS,” then you have a company that can withstand all kinds of outside pressures and you have people that want to stick together. Therefore you have high retention rates.
I do not have the energy, time nor the know-how to be someone that I am not.
I firmly believe that people are drawn to other people like themselves. If you were to come to my company, you would be greeted by kind, caring, and humble people. As you walked through the company, you would find that 99% of the employees carry themselves the same way. This characteristic goes back to realness. When I used to do all of the hirings in the company’s early days, I hired people I liked. I hired people that cared about the company more than themselves. They asked questions about the company and how they could help the company instead of questions about salaries, benefits, and other questions regarding what was in it for them. Those early people I hired, are now my top managers and now they do the hiring. They look for the same qualities in people that I did back in the early days. Now we have a company full of individuals that ultimately share the same values I do. We have a company of “REAL” people.
So how does all of this tie in with having a transparent company? Transparency starts at the top, and it filters down to the people of the organization. If the business owner, CEO, top leadership are open and encourage an open and inclusive company, then others will follow. When there is transparency and openness in a company, then people trust that company and people want to stay in that environment.
See Related Article: 10 Very Simple Ways To Improve Your Company Culture
Trust will always defeat rumors and corruption! People these days hail whistleblowers and hackers as heroes because they are breaking down walls and opening up companies like never before. The opposite of trust is secrecy, and when you have secrecy you can’t have trust.
How can you be transparent to your customers? Well, first of all, you don’t hide anything about your service or product. I was on a sales call yesterday for my offshore staffing firm. I told the potential client, “If you were to pull the curtain back on our business model and see the things that go wrong, you would find that things go wrong when our developers do not have proper guidance from our clients.” You see before the client could even ask me what weaknesses our business model has, I offered that information up to them. By admitting a fault and showing you are transparent to those faults, you build even greater trust with your clients and prospects.
Customers can leave reviews on many different websites nowadays, and companies are forced into transparency when customers complain about your product or service. What do you do when you get a complaint? Well, the first thing you do is respond to it. How do you react to it? If you truly did make a mistake and you deserved the bad review, then own it. Say, “Yes, this happened, and I’m incredibly sorry.” Continue on with, “We learned a great deal from this mistake and this customer, and we have made sure we don’t repeat this mistake.” If you didn’t deserve the bad review and it’s from someone you honestly don’t know, then say that as well. Ask the person to present a receipt of service from your company to prove they did engage with you.
Your company can also engage in transparency via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In a recent study Weber Shandwick, a public relations firm, concluded that 76% of top managers favor their CEOs utilizing different social media platforms. Show the world your people hard and work, and show the world your company outings. Let the world see the inside of your company and what it is like to work for you. This open window builds trust, and it creates a following, and those two things are critical for a successful organization.
If your organization is going through any changes in leadership, business direction, business models or price changes, be open and honest about these things with your employees and clients. I have always found that it is better to go to people that you deal with and tell them straight up what is going on. Yes, it can be uncomfortable if you are in the wrong and you have to admit fault, but do it anyway. I can’t tell you how many clients we saved but admitting a mistake fast and early. The clients appreciated it, and they even helped us out of a mess most times.
I can’t stress it enough; transparency is the key to building trust. When you build trust with your client’s, customers and employees, then your company has no limits!