Emmanuelle Abensur
June 7, 2024
min read
People & Culture

What Does a Transparent Company Actually Look Like?

a transparent company that has processes as transparent as in an airplane

Everyone talks about the importance of developing transparency in the workplace. But in reality, becoming a transparent company is not easy at all. We’ve conducted a study in France that shows that only 12% of surveyed employees find that they’re company is completely transparent. This shows that there are still many improvements that can be made in order to improve workplace transparency.

When we talk about transparency, actions often speak louder than words. So instead of just saying you want your company to be transparent, now’s the time to actually take action! To help you understand what transparency is all about, we’ve interviewed Marek Wzorek, CEO, Founder and Executive Coach at PerfectCircle, a company specialized in coaching teal organizations.

In this article, he explains the benefits of transparency, the characteristics of a transparent company, as well as the best practices to follow in order to become one.

Why Is Transparency so Important in the Workplace?

Nowadays transparency is a must in every organization. But why is that exactly? Here are some of the benefits that transparency brings. 

Increased Performance

In the French study that we did, we found that 44% of employees think that a company who’s transparent is more performant than a company who’s not. Marek Wzorek confirms it also from his own experience, working as executive and teal coach with traditional organizations and teal organizations. 

According to a study conducted by Talkspirit and Ipsos, a transparent company is more performant and empowers employees more than a non-transparent company

Clear roles and processes help people work more efficiently. Most often, when there are no clear guidelines or rules, people are confused about what to do, and so they’re not very productive. However, when there’s transparency, employees are not only more productive but also understand better the impact that their work has. As they get more productive, they also get happier, which in turn increases customer satisfaction and happiness,” says Marek Wzorek. 

Enhanced Security

“Implementing transparency in the workplace can also bring security to the business,” he adds. “Let’s take for example the aviation industry. It is one of the most secure industries, but why do you think that is? Well, because they’re faced with high risks, they need to make sure as much as possible from the processes is transparent. You see it clearly when you’re in an airplane. All the processes have clear guidelines, rules and checklists for passengers, stewardesses and pilots. And the same goes when the different teams are actually building that airplane. Many organizations should follow that example,” he explains.

Easier Onboarding

Another pro is that when there’s transparency in the organization, the onboarding of new people is much quicker. As everything is already documented, new recruits can quickly become familiar with the organization, its culture and its processes. This can then help them take on their responsibilities and make their own decisions autonomously.”

Greater Talent Retention

According to Marek Wzorek, an organization is like a building: when some places of the building are closed or in the dark, no one wants to go there.” However, when everything is open and accessible, people are more likely to go there and stay inside for longer. This illustrates that fostering a culture of transparency can help create a good atmosphere within the company, and thus attract and retain more talent.

Also read: Transparency: cornerstone of Talkspirit’s own talent retention strategy

What Makes a Company Transparent?

So what, exactly, makes a company transparent? Here’s what our expert has to say on this topic.

“A transparent company is a company that brings transparency to every aspect of the organization, on topics such as finances, HR processes, goals, roles and organizational culture. When team members clearly know each other’s role and are able to measure their own turnover and profits in the team/circle or own role, it’s already an indicator that there's a high level of transparency in the workplace. 

What’s more, a transparent company is characterized by a psychologically safe environment that allows employees to freely express their opinions and concerns. When they make mistakes, they’re not afraid to speak out about it. On the contrary, mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow. In traditional organizations where there’s no transparency, mistakes also happen, but the difference is that no one wants to hear about it.

Of course, when we talk about transparency, we should take in consideration the topic of transparency about salaries. We found in our study that transparency is the number one thing employees are looking for, so this can’t be avoided. So the more people have access to the organization’s salaries, the more transparent the company is. However, a lot of companies are afraid to speak out about salaries because it’s usually not done in a fair way. 

To achieve salary transparency, you thus need to take it step by step, and begin by creating clear processes about talent development. For example, you need to decide what the salary range should be for each job, according to the employee’s experience (junior, intermediate, senior, etc.) and skills.”

Also read: [Expert Opinion] How To Make Your Workplace More Attractive To Top Talent

How Can You Bring More Transparency to Your Organization?

Implementing self-management is a great way to make your company more transparent, because transparency is paramount in self-managed organizations,” explains Marek Wzorek. In such organizations, teams are empowered to take initiative and make decisions, without always asking for a manager’s approval. However, roles, processes and objectives need to be very transparent for them to be able to do that and also how they can change, adapt or implement new roles, processes and objectives . 

Becoming a self-managed organization can take time though, and it’s not necessarily for everyone. If you’re in a traditional organization or currently transitioning to a new governance model, there are still things you can do to make your company more transparent. Here are some examples of best practices.

Organize Stand-up Meetings

“First, you can organize daily stand-up meetings or weekly tactical meetings to highlight what was successful and what wasn’t. This will encourage people to speak out both about the good and the bad, and to be more transparent with their colleagues.”

PS: here’s a stand-up meeting template that can help you out 😉

Stand-up meeting template for a transparent company
Daily stand-up meeting template 

Also, don’t forget to take notes during these meetings! To save time, you can use Holaspirit’s meeting feature. It allows you to create different meeting templates, to take notes and automatically create minutes with these notes.

On Holaspirit, everyone has access to the meeting minutes, so having a look at it is a great way to check if your initiatives are paying off. “For example, if you see that team members brought up tensions, discussed solutions and made decisions collectively during a meeting, then that means your company is becoming more transparent. Moreover, these minutes can help people understand how other teams are working together, and how they can follow that example,” he says.

Set OKRs

“If you want to make expectations clearer and track your objectives more easily, I would also recommend using the OKR (Objective and Key Results) methodology. We’ve helped several of our clients implement it on Holaspirit, and we find that this can help make a company more transparent.” 

Setting OKRs on Holaspirit to make your company more transparent
Setting OKRs on Holaspirit

OKRs allow you to create measurable and yet challenging objectives for both your company and your teams. Using this method can thus help you align everyone on the same goals and priorities.

“Once you’ve started implementing OKRs, you can monitor the maturity of using OKRs in the team and organization. More transparent and self-organized teams and organizations regularly check the progress of these OKRs, as well as the projects that are connected to it.”  The aim of OKRs isn’t just to set random objectives and to forget about it. If team members update it on a regular basis, this shows that it’s actually useful for them and that they’re developing transparency in the team and organization.

Use a Project Management App

“Using a project management app with kanban boards can bring more transparency on the projects everyone is working on, as it allows you to easily track the advancement of tasks. That’s what we use on Holaspirit, and we find that it makes collaboration much easier. Moreover, checking tasks as completed also helps people feel a sense of accomplishment.

Tracking a project on Holaspirit's project app
Tracking a work environment project on Holaspirit’s task app

When we want to measure the success of the self-management implementation, we usually check the transparency level and projects that people are working on. We look at how each project is splitted into different tasks, how many tasks are work in progress, and how they’re assigned between team members.”

Collect Your Employees’ Feedback

“A great thing to implement as well is feedback surveys. For example, you can measure the eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) to know how likely your employees would recommend your company to friends and colleagues. This will help you understand how people see the organization, how engaged they are at work and what you can do to improve that engagement.”

Also read: 50 Effective Employee Engagement Ideas

Lead by Example

“The most important best practice is to lead by example. I often see top managers saying that they want their company to be more transparent, but not being transparent by themselves. For example, they expect other teams to have OKRs, but they don’t create their own. If you want to improve transparency, leaders need to be exemplary.”

How exactly, do you lead by example? Well, for Marek Wzorek, leaders should begin by understanding who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Doing this self-assessment on your own is not always successful  because as people we have blind spots and cognitive biases, that’s why it’s usually best to get help from a coach. 

I often met managers in traditional organizations which are the bottlenecks of organizations. One of my clients - a CEO in a traditional organization - was doing a lot of things, but he wasn’t transparent about it with his team. When I started to work with him, he realized that he didn't need to do a lot of things on his own, and that he wasn’t the best at doing them. Gradually he let it go, his team took over a lot of his duties and later they recruited another team member that was more fit for the job. Now he’s doing much better, and his team too!

This example shows that leaders should first be transparent with themselves in order to be fully transparent with their team.”

Create Workshops

In addition to the best practices above, Marek Wzorek also recommends organizing workshops to raise awareness about transparency and help people shift their mindset. During these workshops, we usually teach people not to judge their peers for speaking their mind and opening up about their mistakes. Moreover, we make them practice nonviolent communication to show them how to be transparent, without being violent with each other.”

To Conclude

We’ve learned from both concrete data and Marek Wzorek’s insights that developing transparency in the workplace can help improve employee productivity, engagement and loyalty. To become really transparent, companies should clarify roles, responsibilities, processes, objectives, as well as all data that employees need to make informed decisions. And most importantly, leaders need to set an example for this to work.

Implementing self-management tools like Holaspirit can significantly increase the level of transparency within the organization. It can help you clearly visualize who does what, who works on which projects and what processes are used to carry it out. Contact our team to get a demo of our platform and discover how it can make your company more transparent.

Revolutionize your way of working now!