Transparency is Important, Now More Than Ever

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Fear in the unknown exists in us all. And in a time of lock-downs or recessions or general shifts in the economy, your employees are going to have concerns about the status of the company and whether or not they will have a job. That is why, now more than ever, transparency is key in getting your team to function at its best.

Imagine getting into a car with someone and they just tell you to drive. They don’t say where you are going, they just tell you to drive. Your mind will wonder, “where are we going?” It will start illustrating the end destination, “Will it be somewhere scary? Will it be Disneyland?” A little transparency, in either case, would be hugely helpful for you so you can prepare for the journey. Some transparency so they can see the road ahead.

So how does one lead with transparency? Here are some ideas:

  1. Be open and honest. In times of crisis, people will appreciate what is happening. You can choose how to relay this information, maybe it is in a weekly or monthly update. Discuss what needs to be accomplished in this meeting, think small bites and not the big picture. 

  2. Create scorecards. Get some numbers together of what the company looks like when it is at its best. Compare them to the numbers that you have now. Good or bad, comparing numbers is an easy way for people to see the strength of the company and where they need to put more work in.

  3. Share the company financials. You don’t have to share everything, even if all you share is what money came in and what money went out people will be able to understand the strength of the business. Is everyone comfortable with those numbers? Can we see a deficit or maybe the company is “just getting by?” They may simply be happy to know that their paycheck will be covered. They may see things are better than they thought, they may see where they need to focus their efforts.

  4. If companies are closing all around them, your people be concerned about a layoff, too. Share with them some tactics you are working on to make sure that won’t happen. Tell them how your company is different. You don’t want people to get too nervous about the company and bail when you had plans to keep them on staff the entire time.

  5. Tell them the true narrative, otherwise, they will make up their own. A run-away imagination or rumor-mill is a difficult thing to stop. Make sure that they know that if they have any questions, they can come directly to you, or a team leader that is also informed.

Business owners tend to be very secretive about “the numbers.” But silence has never served in protecting anything. Keeping the team aware of where you are going, and most of all, the road ahead, will help them navigate much more strategically and smartly. Not to mention, it will cut down on the need to constantly ask you, “Are we there yet?”