Many startups promote a high level of transparency and let their employees see everything. That's great.
If people know how their work influences customers or the company's revenue, they feel a greater connection and figure out the impact of their work.
They will come up with their own ideas on how to improve the numbers.
A word of caution: measure and present the correct data that makes sense. Delivered value needs to be shown and not only a quantitative number that doesn't mean anything.
Employees that can see how their work adds to the big picture can also make better decisions. Let's take the example of a developer. If I, as a developer, know that 30 thousand users each hour use his function, he will make sure that this functionality can handle that and pay extra attention that this won't break the system.
For many managers, it's hard to build that level of trust. It was taught differently in the last decades. Numbers are for the board, and people should focus on their work and don't get distracted with charts and graphs.
It's not only about numbers here; they just deliver a great example. It's also true for any documentation, planning, and news.
Every company has a documentation space like Confluence or such. I am not saying there can't be rules; still, some things are well hidden behind curtains, but there should be high transparency.
It makes alignment easier or possible at all. For example, when I can see the organizational goals, I can align the ones of my team with that and my own.
Transparency Finds Its Way
What happens when you are not transparent? The information will find its way down the org-chart, be aware of that.
There are several issues with that. Do you know the game "Chinese Whispers"?
The information loses detail and quality, gets its own interpretations, gets opinionated, and adds feelings.
As a children's game, this may be funny. But now, it gets hard for teams to make sense, and they are trying to do the best with this wrong information. This adds frustration on every level of the organization.
Everybody of us knows where this can lead to; delays, risk, higher costs, rework, ….
How to fix that?
As information finds its way regardless of your intent, make it accessible as easily as possible and be faster than any chatter.
Use internal blogs, wikis, email newsletters, or messenger apps to spread information so that people hear it from an official source and not from the hallway.
When you publish any sort of data, help people interpret them and teach them how to read the numbers. It doesn't help if you show me a financial report of the last year without telling me what I should look for.
Make the information easily digestible to a level that really every single staff member can understand. The more complex details you can keep for yourself and the teams that need to work with the numbers daily.
You will be surprised how different people will use the numbers.
Some will be proud again of their work and use that as a source of motivation. Some will use it to measure success to directly see the influence on the numbers. Some will let you know their improvement ideas.
Transparency is vital for every organization. Just make sure it happens the right way, as it happens anyway. If you allow it or not.
Need help on how to add transparency to your organization? Let's see where we can work together.