Editor’s Note: This is part 3 of a 5 part series where John Schierer explores the topic of transparency in the workplace. To get the full context of John’s perspective on transparency in the workplace, we encourage you to start from the beginning of the series.
Part 1: What is Transparency and Why Do People Want It?
Part 2: Why Managers Hate Transparency
Part 3: What HR Can Do to Promote Transparency
Part 4: The 4 Great Myths about Transparency… and the Reality
Part 5: Transparency Case Study: Kyocera in 2001 During the Telecom Crash
By John Schierer
1: Look In Our Own Backyard
HR has one of the worst reputations for byzantine secrecy. Certainly there are a host of issues that demand employee data security, but HR must look at their own systems and lead by example. Are benefits accessible or do employees left to their own devices to figure out their claims and problems? Employees end up suspecting HR is trying to limit benefit costs by limiting access to information. Are compensation systems and their underlying philosophies well understood? How are promotions and transfers evaluated? What are the most valued organizational behaviors and how is it reflected in the review process? Too often HR is guilty of intellectual laziness and blindly invoking a cloak of secrecy when it is just inconvenient to provide all the information employees really need and seek.
2: Lead the Conversation
In talking about other processes and systems, seek to change the tone of the conversation and ask the question “Why wouldn’t we share this information?” as the starting point.
3: Find the Fear
Directly or indirectly ask: what drives the fear of transparency? What question are managers fearful of being asked? If you prepare them for their toughest questions they likely will feel more comfortable in embracing the openness.
4: Transparency as a Journey
Looking back, you can see that transparency is not a one-time event. Topics and information that would have been taboo in years past become fair game as the worst fears of previous efforts do not come to pass.
5: Recognize Transparency Has Responsibilities
As employees are given access to information, they need to understand how it should be used and the how to glean information from data. They need to clearly understand what is proprietary and what can and cannot be shared outside the organization. Shortly after we debuted the compensation system a relatively inexperienced employee demanded a raise to midpoint stating that was what the system said was fair. The vast majority of employees had a more nuanced grasp of the system, but it would have been easy to see this as a systemic failure of transparency rather than an opportunity to educate one ill-informed employee.
6: Discuss Success Stories
As transparency results in innovation, co-operation or customer satisfaction- share the stories. All parts of the organization may not see the benefits of transparency with the same velocity and examples help spark imagination.
Latest posts by John Schierer (see all)
- “The Next Question”Is the Hallmark of the Transformational Human Resources Leader - September 7, 2015
- Part 5: Transparency Case Study: Kyocera in 2001 During the Telecom Crash - March 30, 2015
- Part 4: The 4 Great Myths about Transparency… and the Reality - March 30, 2015