A big part of our culture at Credit Karma is an internal sense of transparency between management and employees. As the company has grown, we've worked hard to keep this in place. The benefits of it are clear-cut. I believe strongly that people who work at companies with a culture of open communication are happier in their jobs.

In a transparent company, people know what is happening and why. They feel more involved. When you remove the feeling that people only need to know the information directly relating to their work, you reduce division between the different ends of the corporate ladder. In a transparent company, executives are part of the greater team and not locked off in a room no one can access. People end up feeling part of something, instead of a cog in a machine.

At Credit Karma, our culture of transparency has three key components.

Open doors

An open door policy is a keystone for good company communication. As Credit Karma has grown, layers of separation have developed in between me as CEO and the rest of the company. I've always seen Credit Karma as a mission-driven business, bringing transparency to the credit system and empowering consumers. I want people who come to work with us to feel excited about this. But it's harder for them to get on board with this if they have no access to me and have to accept my ideas wholesale. I want new employees to feel like this is a mission we're all in together. An open-door policy sets the tone for this. Whenever I'm in my office and available, I encourage anyone to come by and share their thoughts about how they feel Credit Karma is doing. While this helps loop me in to what people are talking about outside my office, it has a much more important effect on employee morale. It creates a flatter management structure and lets people at Credit Karma know that I'm in this with them, leading by example.

Honest conversations

It's not enough to just show people you're open to talk; you have to be willing to engage in a real conversation. Each month at Credit Karma, I hold an open town hall meeting for any employee that wants to come. I use these as important check-ins for any pressing announcements and I take questions--either from the crowd or submitted anonymously--on anything someone might want to ask. Credit Karma employees have quizzed me on the thinking behind office upgrades, stock options, company strategy and expansion plans. I've even been asked about how management felt about purchasing a bartending robot. This brings me out into the company, lets people question my thinking on something they might not have agreed with and helps every person at Credit Karma engage with and understand our company's strategy, while also helping diffuse any small pockets of discontent that may arise.

Full disclosure

A long time ago, I established a precedent at Credit Karma of bringing the entire company together to share board presentations with them. In my earlier jobs, I always wanted to understand where the company was at in its journey, how the business was doing and the strategy behind it all. It takes a lot more planning to do this at Credit Karma in 2015 than in 2007, seeing as we now have to rent a hotel conference room to fit our employees in. It's still worth it. At these all-hands meetings we present the board report in its full glory, every line item, growth chart and product plan. We're open with employees that they have to keep this information strictly confidential and trust them to do so. By opening up the most traditionally secretive part of company reporting to our employees, we're able to let them know how the company is really doing, where we succeeded and where me might have underperformed. Showing them an unfiltered picture of this lets them see we take our employees seriously and helps to get them to buy in to our company goals more completely. In a company that shares information openly and often, we can empower our employees to go about their jobs with confidence and to know the real bigger picture we're all working toward.

Published on: Mar 24, 2015