Chances are, one out of every four of your employees doesn’t trust you.
According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, a full 25% of employees do not trust their employer and half of all employees surveyed do not believe their employer is open or honest with them.
But all hope is not lost!
The key is a magic technique called transparent leadership.
Transparent leadership is powerful.
Adopting a transparent leadership style can revamp your entire company culture by increasing employee engagement, productivity, profit, reduced turnover, and more. It can literally affect every area of the organization because your employees have their hands in every aspect of the business by necessity.
Take TGI Fridays as a case study. It was voted as Britain’s ‘best big company’ because 82% of employees say they feel a strong ‘sense of family’ and 79% say they ‘love’ working at TGIFs. TGIFs has seen a reduce in employee turnover (which is big news in an industry known for high turnover rates). The CEO chalks it up to personal connections the staff is able to build with customers and their fellow co-workers.
When you hear ‘transparent leadership’, you might be imagining a freeform startup headed up by a millennial that wears jeans to the office, but it doesn’t have to be that way. While many organizations that champion transparent leadership often also employ a democratic style of leadership, aspects of transparent leadership can benefit any leader in any industry from established global enterprises to the smallest startup with only one employee.
At its core, transparent leadership encourages collaboration. After all, it is only when everyone is on the same page that employees can come together as equals to brainstorm and problem solve.
We find that there are many benefits to transparent leadership that might surprise you. Here are the five biggest ones for us:
The results of transparent can be pretty far-ranging in regard to employee satisfaction. The bottom line is that relationships with managers matter. Research shows that employees don’t just quit jobs, but they also quit managers. In a survey of more than 1,000 employees, two of the top five job deal breakers were “your boss doesn’t trust you” and “boss blames you for mistakes”. Another survey showed that 37% of respondents were more likely to leave their jobs due to poor opinions of their manager’s performance.
The good news is that adopting a transparent leadership style can help your employees get to know you, understand the decisions you make, and feel more connected to the organization. Employees are most engaged when senior leadership updates them on a regular basis and communicates organizational strategy and goals.
We bring this up on this blog over and over again, but the more you can paint a picture for your employees so that they understand exactly where they fit into the organization and how their work contributes to the whole, and the better off you’ll be – even better when your employees are in tune with organizational goals. Often, employees might know what they’re supposed to be doing, but not the ‘why’ behind it. Transparent leadership is all about showing your employees the ‘why’ behind every choice.
Fewer problems that are solved faster.
Basically, this is the “many heads are better than one” concept in action. Transparent leadership means transparent problems, which is great news! Don’t get hung up on feeling like you need to protect your employees, even when it’s bad news. The reason why is that your employees come from different backgrounds, have different thought processes, look at problems differently than you do. You’ll get more creative solutions to problems than you could ever dream up alone.
In fact, a problem that might seem like an impossible obstacle might just need to be looked at a different way. Your employees might surprise you with their creativity and ingenuity. Furthermore, you’re increasing employee engagement, because they’ll feel like they really have a voice in ensuring that the organization is successful.
Do you ever have the lurking suspicion that something bad is going to happen? You can’t put your finger on way, but you can feel something bad is about to happen. Often, if you’ve tucked yourself away in meeting after meeting behind closed doors, your employees can start to feel the same way.
Using transparent leadership can allay concerns, reassure employees, and increase trust. Your employees will trust that nothing is wrong, because (see #2) they know what’s going on because you tell them when there’s a problem.
Plus when employees know what’s going on, they can understand your decision process. Sometimes even the most well-reasoned choices can look like they came out of left field if your employees don’t know what went into making that decision.
You have more freedom.
Believe it or not, but a transparent leadership style gives you more leeway. While the idea of laying everything out to your employees can be, frankly, scary if you’ve never done it before, once you get over the initial trepidation, it’s incredibly freeing.
You have the ability to make mistakes – and admit them. You can grow visibly in front of your employees. You don’t need to create an image of knowing everything or feel like you always have to justify your choices. You can empathize with employee problems, validate feelings, encourage your employees, listen to their ideas, and make them feel heard. You can be open and honest with feedback (both that you offer and that your employees offer you).
When your employees trust you, they’re willing to let you take chances and make mistakes because you’ve developed a strong relationship with them.
This is a result of the last four points, but it is also just a straight-up benefit of transparent leadership itself. You will get better performance from your employees because they will be happier, more engaged, and feel loyalty toward you and the organization. What’s more, better performance translates into objective increases in profits. Additionally, happy, engaged employees? Much less likely to leave their current organization for the unknown. Transparent leadership can help reduce employee churn and turnover, further reducing operating costs and knowledge loss while helping to retain talent.
What do you think about transparent leadership? Is it something you work toward? Let us know in the comments!