Transparency is The New Currency in Corporate Culture
I have been fortunate enough to meet and learn from many business leaders over the last ten or so years since college. Some of these leaders were off-the-charts brilliant and others not so much. It’s great to see both sides and the common ground between the two. I have been able to apply the good teachings that I picked up along the way and avoid most of the bad. If I were made to choose one thing that I’ve picked up that I most try to emulate it would have to be transparency.
During a meeting with one of the “good guys” I met along the way, he was blisteringly transparent about his company in front of a group of what most would consider competitors. From his balance sheet to his company policies, he shared details as though it were publicly held information. Until that moment it was my deep-seeded belief to keep those specifics under lock and key as only specific members of an organization should be privy to that depth of information.
Why did he tip his hand?
Transparency builds trust and opens the door for real sharing of real information. Successful brands depend on an open flow of information to make informed decisions. Now more than ever, customers have the ability to share information about products and services and companies better be listening. NASCAR developed a customer intelligence platform called the Official NASCAR Fan Council to track real time feedback from more than 12,000 fans. As a result, NASCAR fans have paid witness to many new and exciting changes in recent years including the addition of a new points system and new cars. These alterations have spurned new viewership and deepened fan loyalty.
Gone are the days of the ivory tower CEO and executive teams that meet secretively in order to build strategy and mask the inter-working of the organization. Big ideas come from the people that actually perform the services that you are providing. Having closed-door meetings keeps new, exciting and actionable information from flowing into the decision making process.
Some of the largest and most successful organizations in the world deploy this type of strategy where the CEO sits shoulder-to-shoulder with all employees. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook or Jack Dorsey of Twitter are testaments to this way of thinking. Wal-Mart rewards and encourages its employees for coming up with new ideas whether it be a new shelving arrangement or bike rack design. Creating transparency and getting in the trenches within an organization fosters multilateral communication. This strategy has produced key principles that we hold true.
Flexibility: As humans we are all different from the way we look to our personality. Being able to understand the nuances of these differences and working with each individual achieves a healthy environment conducive for success.
One of our most talented engineers is a night owl and does some of his best work while most are sleeping. If he arrives past 9 a.m. I know that he was up late working.
Open Door Policy: I literally mean open office doors. Never should an employee feel like they need to knock to see if it’s okay to interrupt what I am doing because we are doing the same thing–bettering the organization. Ideas happen at the strangest times and need to be expressed and nurtured by the team. By having the doors open it allows ideas and strategy to flow freely.
Our marketing lead calls me at least once a week at an odd hour. I always take the call because I know it’s something that he’s put a lot of thought into and that could ultimately help the organization.
Empowerment: Humans are extremely responsive when they feel like they are making a difference. The old saying that you need to give up control to get control is so important. Letting people be great by getting out of their way is necessary in order to unleash human potential.
Each department head within our organization is tasked with creating a budget. Instead of focusing solely on bottom-line thinking, our directors are armed with the crystal clear vision and strategy of the company and the flexibility to make it happen.
These principles serve to flatten the traditional management structure and get the most out of your team and yourself. We regularly hold town hall meetings with the entire staff. When people have the whole picture, they feel plugged-in. They know what value they truly bring and how everything is interconnected. Creating a group that works toward a clearly defined goal pays dividends to our team, partners and customers.