Transparency. It is a word that can mean anything from honesty to the clear sheets your teachers used on overhead projectors (remember those?).
In today’s world, transparency is highly valued. We want to feel as though our leaders are being transparent with us. Since most people post their highlight reels to their social networks, we carry a healthy dose of skepticism when seeing those posts. And does anyone really think celebrities and politicians are tweeting without a PR director or publicist involved?
As a leader, your team will only follow you as much as they trust you. And one of the factors that influences their level of trust in you is their perception of your transparency.
But how do we demonstrate transparency in a way that is received well by everyone on the team?
I am glad you asked. There is one thing you can implement today that will increase your transparency with your team. Are you ready?
Here it is:
Voluntarily keep people informed.
That sounds painfully obvious, but if it was so obvious, there would not be a need to write about it.
When we work in roles of leadership, we sometimes forget that everyone on our team does not follow every decision, conversation, and thought that we have on a project. They usually (at best) only see snapshots of these things in meetings and hallway conversations.
If teams only find things out during meetings, then they are aware of communication gaps. These gaps have a negative impact on your team. When communication gaps exist, people begin filling in the blanks on their own. And that is asking for trouble.
I was once on an executive team at work. We had a few open positions on the team, but nothing had been said about filling those roles. Until one day when our leader mentioned he had interviewed 4 people so far for one of the roles. And he spent as much time on it as I just did. That one sentence caused people to wonder what other major things were not being communicated. The gaps in communication led people to begin creating their own stories, which had a negative influence on perception.
So what should you do as the leader? Begin creating rhythms of voluntarily keeping people updated. This can be as simple as a regular email sent out that updates the team on pertinent issues. Or maybe it is a 10 minute meeting every Thursday at 2 PM that allows people to only bring updates on a project. Or maybe it is using a tool like Slack that gives everyone access to the conversations.
The particular tool or approach you use must be unique to your team, but do not assume the tool itself will solve your problem. The solution comes when you decide how to think about the problem. Only then can you begin making the tool work for you.
Here is your homework: take time to send an email that updates your team on a current project. Start it by saying something like “Hey everybody. This does not require action on your part, but please continue reading. It includes some updates that are helpful to know.”
Try it. See how people respond. Then try something else in 2 days. Eventually, you will find the rhythm that works for your team. And overall communication will skyrocket.