Increasing transparency should be the goal of every business -- it can boost the company's trust, reputation, happiness levels and even profits. Every employee wants to work for a company he feels is doing the right thing, and no one wants to be left out when it comes to crucial information.
That being said, companywide meetings shouldn't necessarily include every single detail that upper management is grappling with. While employees need to have a thorough understanding of what's happening at their company, sharing the wrong information can just cause greater confusion and, ultimately, be counterproductive. Transparency, like everything else in business, is about balance.
If you're hoping to offer just the right amount of transparency, be careful not to go too far in either direction. It's not easy, but it can have big payoffs in the end.
Avoid Information Overload
One of the easiest -- and most dangerous -- ways to practice transparency is simply to let your employees know about everything. Whether it's constant meetings, daily memos or lengthy water cooler conversations, sharing every last detail of company news is bound to drag things down. Not only will you cause productivity to slump, but you're also likely to scare the very people you're trying to support.
Oversharing doesn't just waste time -- it can cause people to overlook the things you share with them that actually require their attention. Think of it as a "boy who cried wolf" situation: If you let people know every last detail of what's going on, they're naturally going to pay less attention to each individual item. When the time comes that you really do need their attention, you'll have already lost their trust. When everything's crucial, nothing is.
Try to establish regular meeting times -- weekly, twice a month or whatever works best for your office -- where you'll share the relevant information you think is right to share. A regular schedule not only gives your employees a solid framework for taking in news, but it also gives you a set amount of time to reflect on what your team really needs to know.
Consider the Consequences
When you share something with an employee, don't do it thoughtlessly. While it may seem beneficial to keep everyone as updated as possible, the wrong information shared with the wrong person at the wrong time can have unintended consequences.
You want to ensure that everything you share simultaneously conveys the reality of your company while creating the culture you want. Never divulge any information that will create fear for its own sake. When choosing what to be transparent about, ensure that everything you share has a purpose behind it.
If there are negative things you need to inform your employees of, make sure they're going to be constructive or motivating. Furthermore, ensure you can answer the follow-up questions they're bound to have; partial transparency isn't fulfilling for anyone.
Keep It Relevant
Let's say you get a new report that indicates that your sales volume has gone down by 8% over the past six months. You don't go rushing to tell your design team the news -- you inform the people who need to know. Perhaps the easiest way of safeguarding against oversharing is by evaluating every shareable bit of information and deciding who needs to hear it the most.
Throwing irrelevant facts and figures at workers is a surefire way to confuse and disorient your office. Instead, create separate channels of communication for each team or division. That way, you can communicate relevant information to anyone who needs to hear it without wasting others' time and effort.
Establishing trust with your team is integral to running a successful business. While transparency is the fastest and easiest way to gain that trust, transparency can be overdone. If you're hoping to strike the right balance, consider the needs of your employees first. That's always a good place to start.