How Much Does Transparency Matter in Business?

I recently heard the SheQuality podcast featuring Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO of WE Communications, talking about transparency in business.

Her premise? It’s impossible NOT to be transparent in today’s business world.

Transparency is the New Business Imperative

Transparency appears to apply equally to internal and external situations; employees, particularly millennial employees, demand transparency from their employers, and consumers demand transparency from purveyors.

And suddenly transparency becomes shorthand for a whole new way of defining success.

Building A Culture of Transparency

There was much discussion on the podcast as to what exactly should be disclosed and to whom. And how making the switch from a more closed culture to a more transparent one shouldn’t happen overnight.

It seems that employees ARE interested in more than just what their co-workers are earning.

They want to know what a company stands for so they can get behind it, or alternatively, leave for something they can get behind.

They want to be informed about how the company is doing and whether trends are positive or negative. (Yes, financial data should be shared). And they want to know when mistakes are made.

Transparency is Critical for Millennials

It’s difficult to have a discussion about business transparency without also talking about millennials since some sources indicate they will make up the majority of the workforce as early as 2020.

This group has shown itself to be highly principled when it comes to their needs and wants as employees, and as consumers.

As tech platform Unito put it bluntly in this blog post, “Millennials are more engaged when they understand as much as possible about their workplace. Transparency leads to improved communication about everything from issues to objectives. Employees that understand their team’s short and long-term goals, as well as how they will be involved in achieving them, find it more motivating to deliver.”

Your employees want to be informed about how the company is doing. They want to know what role they play in the overall success of the company.  They want to contribute to increasing success. And they want the training and support to do it.

The Connection Between Transparency and Training

According to the research firm Engine (formerly ORC International), millennials are specifically interested in:

  • Clearly defined short- and long-term goals

  • To understand their path to reach those goals

  • The training and development necessary to be successful for the organization, as well as in their specific career path

Which when seen alongside their stated desire for transparency, would seem to indicate that sharing details about sales targets and sales outcomes, as well as the behavior required to achieve them, is a good idea.

Every single employee needs to understand how their activities can contribute or detract from the company’s ultimate success. And they all need to understand that they’re salespeople.

The research is consistently showing that training isn’t just a good investment from a skills development point of view, but necessary for these employees to be engaged and motivated.

Wouldn’t some basic sales skills training for all employees be the ultimate answer to business success?

A culture of transparency fosters engaged and motivated employees who understand how they are contributing to organizational success. Add in a little skills development and it can only lead to more success, both personal and organizational.

Seems to me we should all be encouraging more openness!