“Transparency” is a popular trend in business these days. It sounds great, but what does it really mean to cultivate an open working environment? And how do you put it into practice? Here, we look at why transparency matters and how to make it part of your team’s culture.
4 benefits of transparency
1. Increases performance and accountability
Transparency drives team performance, task ownership, accountability and better communication.
When the entire project—and everyone’s task and responsibility—is visible to the entire team, people rise to a level of accountability and performance that doesn’t happen when lost in invisible silos.
Transparency also holds individuals accountable, and motivates them to deliver on their commitments. If your team mate is working hard and making remarkable headway on a task, it’s going to challenge you to do the same. In contrast, if you’re spending a bit too much corporate time on Facebook or at the company foosball table and you fall behind on your work, there’s no hiding the fact.
2. Eliminates bad surprises before it’s too late
Projects managers don’t like surprises, and teams don’t like not knowing where the project stands. Your stakeholders like them even less. If you’ve ever been part of a project where the project manager consistently reports “Green” and then it’s suddenly “Red”, then you know what it’s like to work in a non-transparent environment. Transparency ensures that the project manager can’t hide the “bad and ugly” in an attempt to only showcase the “good.”
3. Gets buy in and ownership from the entire team
When the entire team has visibility into the entire project including what everyone else is working on and the status of dependent tasks, there are more team members engaged and accountable. Problems can be anticipated because each team member is providing a project delivery role. And everyone knows each day what they’re doing and why they’re doing it—another big motivator.
4. Builds trust with your clients and peers
Trust inspires confidence to invest in the resources you need to successfully deliver. Stakeholders need to trust that the team will provide visibility into the project and all its potential challenges as they unfold. Transparency is the first step in the process of gaining trust.
How to put transparency into action
- Use collaborative and cloud-based project management software and tools.
- Share the project schedule and keep it updated and visible 24×7.
- Share the risk and issues with all the stakeholders up front.
- Communicate problems early and brainstorm solutions as a team.
- Listen to your team, share team members’ ideas and be an advocate of great ideas. (And, give credit where credit is due.)
- Know when not to be transparent. Know which information needs privacy (financials, HR details, contracts) and then relax and be an open book.
- Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.”
- Have courage.
The thing about courage
Courage is needed especially if the status of your project is undefined, or you have bad news to deliver.
If you still don’t feel confident reporting the “bad and the ugly,” remember as any experienced PM will tell you, it’s part of the job to portray a realistic picture of what’s going on. A few tips:
- Say something like, “Let me get back to the team to do some re-estimation based on what we talked about today and I’ll show you the new date range ASAP.”
- Share a document and get feedback on it.
- Be honest and direct about a seemingly unsolvable problem.
- Remember that everyone on the team wants the same outcome.