All organizations want happy employees. And one of the most effective and successful ways to keep employees happy is to bring transparency at the workplace. Most experts agree that transparency is one of the most important elements of a harmonious and efficient workplace and relationships. The simplest definition of a transparent workplace is operating in a way that creates openness between managers or administrators and employees. This openness is further based on the trust laid in the minds of the leadership, by the employees. Thus, trust and transparency go hand in hand. Organizations that have high levels of trust and transparency within the people are more successful than those that don’t. Scottish author and poet George Macdonald said that “to be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved”.
One of the most common ways trust gets destroyed between people within an organization is, when either the administration or the employees fail to communicate. You hear many stories of employees who thought something was one way within their organization only to find out later that it was not. Also, sometimes it is seen that people, for their personal benefit or to remain safe from a controversy, can create stories which may even diminish the image of someone else. When the truth is revealed, the trust upon the person who cooked up the story is lost, sometimes forever.
Achieving a culture of open, honest communication and rock-solid trust amongst team players at every level is absolutely critical to the future success of your organization. In a system, one needs to recognize that being transparent is not something one can switch on and off. One needs to shift one’s own mindset about transparency,i.e. What does it mean to you and why it is important to you; the answers will help guide you as you build your collaborative team.
Transparency is an ongoing process that can have ongoing results. Open floor plans, monthly staff meetings, and detailed reports do not equate to transparency. Transparency is nothing new, but there has never been a time when it’s been more important in the workplace than now. According to a survey of more than 1500 U.S. workers, a full quarter of employees do not trust their employer. What’s more, the survey also found that only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them. Many workplaces are still failing at transparency leading to many complications at every level of work. Instead of communicating openly and sharing widely they are working in their own cocoons.
There are certain obvious reasons and benefits for implementing workplace transparency.
• Transparency leads to the flow of coherent information:
Transparency and a culture of trust are not only desirable but are absolutely necessary. Without transparency, it is easy for the wrong information to be circulated. For example, imagine your company is in the midst of a merger and acquisition. Sure, there may be a lot of unknown variables and uncertainty, but there is also likely a lot of information that could and should potentially be shared. Scenarios like these can cause great stress and anguish for employees. And when people don’t understand what is happening around them, rumours are easily fabricated. Thus, transparency rules out the chances of gossip which are unhealthy for the growth of the organization.
• Transparency leads to better performance:
Employees working in an organisation, can know their role better and position themselves better in the big picture if the system is transparent enough. This will help them understand the seriousness and importance of their role in the organization, no matter how big or trivial it is.In fact, the result of the performance and an open feedback, whether positive or negative, when shared with the team, results in clarity of what was appreciated and what was not. This clarity, certainly, will impact their next effort making process in which the feedback and strengths will be auto-implemented. In addition to this, it will also enhance the self- esteem of the team players.
A recent study from Harvard Business School took a look at the concept of transparency in a restaurant setting where the cooks and customers could literally see each other during the food prep and dining experience. The results showed a striking improvement of 17 percent in customer satisfaction and 13 percent faster service when customers and cooks can see each other. This is a fascinating look at the power of transparency, and it indicates that customers are happier when they feel they’ve been made part of the process.
Also, employees who are kept in the loop and understand their role in the overarching purpose, vision and goals of the company are, understandably, more likely to put their trust in their employer.
• Transparency leads to better relationships:
Ever pondered what could be the reason of breaking of relationships with a rate much greater than ever before? It is not merely non-adaptability or difference of personality/ taste/ choices nor is it the intolerance of an individual towards the feelings, emotions and actions of the other. But the root of all this lies in lack of transparency.
When it comes to building solid relationships, trust and transparency take thecenter stage. As when we are not transparent in a relationship, we are hiding something from the person we are related to and are always living on the edge of the relationship. It could be something about ourselves, or of our past, or something related to our habits, emotions, opinions, likings. This refrains us from being who we truly are and enjoying our relationships as there is always a risk of the truth being revealed.And this sudden revelation, which has to happen someday, is sometimes the end to the story.
If things are made clear in the beginning,it would lead to better understanding, giving rise to acceptance of the other person as they were no more ignorant. And no matter what the matter is, more important than that is our intension behind the relationship, which is pure.
For instance, if you have purchased grocery item of Rs. 700 but shopkeeper tells you that if you purchase total of Rs. 1000, then you will get a gift. You purchase things not so required, of Rs. 300 more. After billing and payment, the shopkeeper gives you a small toy of Rs. 10 which you don’t need at all.How do you feel? Would you ever go back to that store or believe in any further ‘offers’ that the store claims to have for you? Will you recommend that store to your friends? This is how lack of transparency can lead to building up of expectations, and not meeting them can lead to crash of relationships, sometimes even before they are properly build-up.
The same is the case in organizations, where we spend most of our productive hours. The office is more than a place that employees go to earn their salaries. Relationships within employees and between employees and employers are essential in creating an efficient and successful business. For these relationships to flourish, there needs to be some degree of trust and transparency. Any effect on our professional relationship surely impacts our state of mind which is reflected in our personal life and visa-versa.
• Transparency avoids duplicity and errors:
In a system where everyone knows what the other person is doing, there is no confusion in anyone’s role and each one does what they are supposed to do. This avoids any overlap and duplicity. Otherwise, if more than one person ends up doing the same task, it will be wastage of time and resources for the organization and can also lead to a state of redundancy. So,when allocation of task is transparent, each one can focus on their own work, which results in increased productivity for the organization.
Moreover, in a transparent system, chances of errors are reduced as the objective, procedure and the tools used for any task, are transparent. So, the error can be caught before it is made. This can also enhance learning of the person who was working on it and also for others who were made aware of the potential error in the procedure or tool used to accomplish the task, so that they don’t encounter it the next time when they have to do the same task using the same procedures and tools.
• Transparency leads to better solutions:
Here, transparency doesn’t mean to share the confidential matters with those who are not concerned with it. But when we are transparent in admitting our mistakes and sharing our problems to those who are reliable or come inside the circle of effect of that mistake or problem, we can divert our energy from hiding the mistakes, to finding the solutions together.As aresult, problems are solved faster.
American writer Patrick Lencionisays, “Clients don’t expect perfection from the service providers they hire, but they do expect honesty and transparency. There is no better way to demonstrate this than by acknowledging when a mistake has been made and humbly apologizing for it”.
• Transparency leads to better engagement:
A culture that values transparency in the workplace breeds engaged employees. When everyone feels being involved in the progress of the organization and are involved in the decision- making process, in the way they can be, they know what decisions have been taken and why. In such a case, they feel more motivated to abide by the decisions as they feel that they have a share in the decision that has been taken and are responsible and accountable towards it.
In fact, Harvard Business Review’s 2013 employee engagement survey revealed that 70 percent of those surveyed say they’re most engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates company strategy.While it can be difficult to reveal you had a bad quarter financially, keeping employees in the know every step of the way maintains confidence in your leadership and company. It can be particularly important during periods of high growth or financial struggle.
Building Transparency through Rajyog Meditation
Sometimes we are not transparent with others or in whatever we do as we don’t want to reveal what we see in ourselves or what we do in order to achieve happiness or satisfaction or a sense of achievement/ fulfillment. But, if we come to know that we are not what we think ourselves to be at present, the fear of revelation won’t haunt us anymore. At present we see ourselves as a sum total of our achievements and shortcomings, success and failures, strengths and weaknesses, and more often we see ourselves as what others perceive of me! If we come to know ourselves by removing the layers of weakness from within and identify the self as we truly are, there will be nothing to hide and transparency will be the normal code of conduct. Moreover, I can understand my mistakes and weaknesses as a deviation from the normal behavior, which was due to the lack of knowledge what the normal behavior is!
Here, Rajyoga Meditation has an important role to play:
Meditation comes from the Latin word- Mederi which means to heal. Anything is said to be healed, when it comes back to its original and normal state. Thus, in order to heal the self through Meditation, one must have the knowledge of one’s original and natural / normal state. Gaining this knowledge about the original self and achieving back the original and normal state is collectively known as Rajyoga Meditation.
Rajyoga Meditation is the experience of healing the inner self through knowledge, silence and practise. Through the technique of meditation, one would be able to go within and connect with their inner self to achieve a state of self-worth and recognition of one’s own value. By practising meditation our eyes open to a totally new world, a world inside. When we re-discover our inner beauty, we can also acknowledge the fact that others too are as beautiful and pure as me. Moreover, we can also understand why others are not being transparent with me, probably because they are still under the perception of their ‘imperfect self’. Thus, Rajyoga Meditation not only allows us to be transparent but also breeds acceptance for others, leading to development of patience, tolerance, humility etc. Thereafter, we don’t try to force or change reality to fit our vision or bemoan the unfairness of life. Instead, we try to see things the way they exist.