It’s one of the biggest buzzwords used to describe management style and workplace culture today.
Like all buzzwords, the definition of what “transparent” means in the world of work varies … For me, it is a management style and/or culture approach where parties are consistently forthcoming and clear about expectations and goals in order to achieve desired-outcomes. It is a management style and/or culture approach of openness, sincerity and collaboration.
Everyone says they would love to work in a transparent culture for a transparent manager. Everyone thinks transparent culture and transparent managers are great. Everyone assumes transparent culture and transparent management is easy.
Everyone is wrong.
If you work in a transparent culture or for someone with a transparent management style, here are a few things to expect:
- You will answer a lot of questions on a lot of things a lot of the time. Clarity is critical for transparency. To get clarity, you must gain knowledge and understanding. And you cannot gain knowledge or understanding without asking a lot of questions — factual questions, open questions, closed questions, recall questions, process questions, relational questions, causal questions, questions on questions on questions.
- You will track, report and analyze metrics. Data is critical for transparency. Part of being transparent is making and sharing information to enable and explain decisions. Costs, expenses, transactions and trends must be monitored to achieve this.
- You will handle confidential information. Sharing is critical for transparency. To share, you have to provide information. Some of that information will be sensitive in nature. Some of it will be OK to repeat to others; some of it will not. Be sure to know the difference.
- You will spend a lot of time with your co-workers. Collaboration is critical for transparency. To collaborate, you have to build teamwork. To build teamwork, you have to spend time together in active work and in downtime. Expect to have a lot of formal meetings as well as social events and organized bonding.
- You will have to be available. Visibility is critical for transparency. To have visibility, you have to be accessible. You must be approachable and cooperative. You must be receptive and innovative. You must be willing and accountable. You must be enthusiastic and accepting.
- You will get a lot of feedback on areas for improvement. Pursuit of development is critical for transparency. To grow, you must know your weak areas and be willing to improve. To learn, you must be critiqued and coached. Not all the feedback will be good or feel good.
Cultivating a transparent culture and/or a transparent management style is hard work. It is demanding and burdensome. It is time-consuming and deadline-driven. It is confrontational and persistent. It is difficult to create it and challenging to maintain.
That’s the trouble with transparency. Can you handle really it?