There is a serious lack of trust in the workplace and one of the reasons is a lack of transparency.
We are in an age where governments spy on us, organisations share our information with third parties and senior leaders have been caught pocketing outrageous amounts of money from salaries, bonuses and additional ‘handshake deals’ behind our backs. We have solid reasons to be weary. Trust is not only important in our life, but also in our workplaces. We want to feel like we are in a place where trust is a given.
When it doesn’t exist, we have all sorts of problems. Innovation is stifled due to a risk-adverse culture, productivity falls, absenteeism and staff turnover increase and collaboration and communication breaks down. Organisations become much less profitable and sometimes they are forced to fold. People don’t want to work for companies where their leaders and people can’t be trusted.
In his book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek tells us that you can’t teach people to trust. It’s a feeling. All feelings grow over time and with time. Sinek says trust is environmental.
When we don’t feel trust we become paranoid, self-interested and cynical. When we don’t feel safe we do things to damage the culture and the company. If we look at where mistrust comes from, it’s essentially a lack of understanding. Anything unknown causes this reaction.
The truth is that many leaders would like to have their cake and eat it too. They would like to celebrate and articulate with a megaphone when things are on track and exceeding expectations. Yet when things are under par they would prefer to go under the radar and say nothing. You can’t have it both ways. You are either transparent or not.
Leaders need to decide what’s most important – the sell or the truth.
Ray Dalio, Harvard graduate and CEO of multiple organisations, is known as one of most influential businessmen worldwide. Dalio created an algorithm to create radical honesty and transparency in his organisation. This led to it becoming one of the most successful hedge fund firms in the world. It allowed his people to speak up and say what they really think.
Dalio says that when you create a culture of ‘radical transparency’ where every conversation, email, performance and all 360 review data is made readily available for everyone in the business, then the best decisions are made and the strongest relationships forged. Because everyone knows everything. There is no guess work and assumptions are eradicated.
With data from everyone in the organisation voting and making comments about others, it forces people to move from opinion based thinking such as I’m right to… How do I know my opinion is right? It shifts the conversations from arguing opinions to becoming curious about what information is needed to make the best decisions. This shift in thinking is going from thinking in one dimension to thinking in multiple dimensions.
As Dalio says:
One of the greatest tragedies of mankind is people arrogantly, naively holding their opinions, that are wrong, acting on them and not putting them out to a stress-test them.
Critics will tell us that being radically truthful and transparent is dangerous. That it’s too emotionally difficult, it’s hurtful, it pulls people apart and creates unnecessary conflict. Yet this CEO and organisation found that it eliminated politics, created deep and authentic relationships, no brutality of the behind-the-scenes conversations. And yes, it’s not for everyone, but it has worked for over 75% of their workforce. It took 18 months.
If you want to know more about how to create healthy feedback cultures get your hands on a copy of my new book Feedback Flow .