Many remote-friendly companies in our database have a transparent culture. And it seems they’re willingness to be open and share information about how they manage, hire, and pay their remote teams has been a key component of their success.
Employees enjoy working with companies that deliver truth and make a real difference. They enjoy working for bosses who are proactive and forthright about the company’s future.
When a company adopts a transparent culture it breaks down the walls that would traditionally keep company performance, financials and operational strategies hidden from anyone not in a senior management role. Transparency removes the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality and people start to feel more connected to those at the top. It keeps management honest, accountable, and holds them to a higher standard.
Leaders become more human, less perfect, and more in touch with employees throughout the entire organisation, regardless of their job title.
The very nature of being transparent means leaders naturally communicate better. Better communication builds respect, trust, and loyalty. In turn, this leads to better problem solving and collaboration, healthier work relationships, and a stronger work ethic. So it’s clear to see why transparency is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Following are a few key tactics in order to successfully embrace transparency in your remote team.
Ensure everyone has access to information
Firstly, start promoting open communication from the top down. Everyone on your team should be able to access information about the organisation at any time. This way team members never feel like they’re being left out of the loop. This can be as simple as setting up a shared document storage area or online wiki, and holding daily or weekly status meetings (whatever works best for the team) to keep everyone on the same page.
Share project updates, meeting notes, customer feedback, financial information, sales targets, recruiting information, and even salaries.
Admittedly, some organisations embracing a transparent culture find sharing everyone’s earnings a little extreme. But others have truly embraced this as part of their openness, posting employee salaries and equity amounts in documents shared company-wide, even making the information public on blog posts. Companies like Buffer, SumAll and The LogBook by Hanno are well known for sharing this level of detail.
Also, when it comes to sharing information it’s not just about sharing the good stuff; include the setbacks as well. Failure is a part of learning and the most powerful source for know-how and understanding. Failure teaches survival skills and ultimately shapes an organisation and its leaders.
Bring the entire management team on board
You can’t build a culture of transparency for your remote team if you don’t have everyone on board and in sync. Everyone within the organisation needs to view the external environment in the same way and be on the same page with the company’s strategic goals and future plans.
According to the author, Quint Struder, in his book Straight A Leadership: Alignment, Action, Accountability: “Alignment is most important at the senior level because all information cascades downward from it. If one senior leader is out of sync with the others, then everyone under that person is going to be out of sync”. And as you can imagine, if this is a large organisation that could be hundreds or even thousands of people out of tune.
When managers refuse to work under an open-book policy, and continually make it difficult for everyone by sending mixed messages that have a rippling effect throughout your team, you have one option only – help them leave.
Ask for feedback and act on it
Feedback from your staff will flow more freely in a transparent culture. People will feel more comfortable giving feedback when there is less fear of retaliation. Open communication will provide valuable insights into how well teams are working which will help you to resolve issues swiftly, and ultimately make the entire organisation run more efficiently.
When you receive feedback you must treat it seriously and take action on ideas or criticisms as soon as you can. Otherwise, you’ll quickly lose trust from your team as people fail to see any real changes taking place. Be sure to keep people up-to-date with progress reports on problem resolution and improvements in a timely manner, and make this information available to everyone.
Encourage open communication and feedback from your customers as well. Exposing vulnerabilities can increase loyalty, deepen relationships, help companies identify problems, and find innovative ways to resolve them.