Open ears and open minds

- Submitted by Anonymous


September 2023

Jessica Bensch
Jessica Bensch

If you want to create a culture of open dialogue, transparency is key.

When organizations more towards more agile ways of working, they tend to focus on business process improvements. This means that anything that does not have a related business goal, ROI or other measurable metric, can be seen as less important. Transparency is one example.

A call for transparency may trigger emotion because it can threaten the concept of hierarchy or levels of knowing, and it can make people feel their own secrets may be exposed. This means leadership must understand the value of not only listening, but of having an open mind when it comes to what they may hear.

Here are some tips for using transparency to create a healthy workplace culture in your organization.

Be sensitive

The notion of transparency, when it is undefined, and even once it has been given parameters, can feel risky, both personally and professionally. Perhaps it is because their career grew amidst a backdrop of levels of knowledge and it is all they know, perhaps it is because they know there are skeletons in the closet and they are concerned about the company’s reputation – or their own, leadership can fear the openness that is needed.

Be aware of who you are speaking with, what their background might be. Be prepared to read your listener to watch for signs you may have triggered a push-back or withdrawal response.

Think about how the information is being received and know this is not a one-conversation discussion. Start slow if you need to; rethink your language and your approach, and just know you must try again.

An open door is not just physical – it is about mindset

Feedback from surveys can quickly become personal, especially where there is a component of anonymity. Understandably, this is why such surveys were often restricted to higher levels of leadership. It may have been under the guise of protecting individual employees or managers but to some degree, it also protected executives from potential exposure.

Opening up survey feedback, making that information accessible to a wider audience requires a mindset change from the very top levels.

It’s also important to recognize that with transparency comes responsibility. There must be an effort to ensure information is placed in context so it can be interpreted accurately and anonymized where necessary.

It sounds challenging but transparency is a positive step towards a culture where everyone’s truth can be heard and acknowledged.

Transparency is the start of the end of organizational silence

It should not be a surprise that for everyone to be heard, we cannot remain silent.

By operationalizing transparency, by making reports and surveys and other forms of feedback available to all, it forces us closer to innovation; a step towards everyone being free to express their thoughts.

This is how we make real change. Remember the three wise monkeys? This is how we change see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil to see the truth, hear what others say, speak your own truth.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Know that you are not alone. By connecting and having the hard conversations, we can start to make change. Share your story here. Let’s raise awareness about these issues together.