Transparent Team Communication: Why and How to Embrace It

Published by Mila Urosevic on June 15, 2017

Have you ever wondered what the primary employee engagement drivers are? Have you thought about what makes certain companies better to work for, or specific teams more desirable to work with than others? What is the secret that lies behind the great achievements of those teams? I am assuming you guessed it right. If not, the answer is Trust.

Why is trust so essential?

Well, we all want to feel safe and secure. We like to know what we commit to and whom we get loyal to. Although it seems obvious, many companies still underestimate the importance of trust and fail to build and nurture it properly within their organization. Now we get to thinking what makes the foundation for building trust that employees seek. What is the magic link in that chain that attracts potential new hires and retains existing ones, while keeping them motivated and loyal? Transparency.

Why transparency behind trust?

We are not trying to undervalue other factors which lead to great successes, but rather emphasize the significance of transparent communication in teams within that process and why you should embrace it. Before we begin, let’s first define what transparency is.

Literarily, being transparent means being easily seen through.

The context of transparency in an organization’s actions and the team’s communication is as simple as it is: No secrets. It is taking actions in such a way that others can easily see them. People like to know things. No one feels comfortable being surrounded by secrets and hidden information, especially in a workplace.

Is there enough trust within your team? Take a quick test:

Does your team practice these 5 characteristics of transparent communication on a regular basis?

  • Communication - If your team members don’t have a habit of open communication and information sharing, your team lacks trust.
  • Honesty - If your team members hide things, calculate or manipulate information, your team lacks trust.
  • Feedback - If your team members defend themselves when being evaluated, your team lacks trust.
  • Respect - If your team members don’t clear up conflicts and arguments right away, your team lacks trust.
  • Admitting wrong - If your team members are afraid of making mistakes, your team lacks trust.

Companies are embracing transparency in different ways more than ever before, while some of them going to the extreme by making all internal conversations, salaries and other information available for everyone inside the company.

The results we found are showing a massive increase in productivity, achievements, employee performance, and the overall quality of relationship and collaboration between team members. Let’s see why.

What you are going to find below are some aspects and benefits of open communication, the ways productive teams encourage transparency, and how you can practice and use it in your team to get the most out of your efforts and collaboration. Read on!

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7 magic benefits of open and honest communication:

Trust and loyalty

It feels safe to communicate any type of news in such an upfront environment which leads to trust among teammates. Encouraging team members to freely express their thoughts or feelings significantly reduces cover-ups, finger-pointing and responsibility avoidance as the main blockers of great achievements.

Information flow

Open communication and free knowledge sharing ensure fast workflow which leads to increase in productivity.

Engagement

Communicating updates to your teammates makes them feel competent and involved. Emboldened by being valued and worth sharing information with, your peers get more inclined toward commitment.

Solutions

Transparent communication helps in solving problems quickly. When issues are transparently highlighted, ideas for a solution are openly shared. Embracing this habit increases the chance of getting things done faster.

Alignment

Transparency ensures that everyone gets on the same page. Open communication prevents misunderstandings and clears up existing ones.

Strengthening relationships

Being open and honest makes you available to get approached decision-making. People are prone to open up and trust you if you make yourself accessible. Eventually, the outcome is better and more strong relationships with your peers.

No surprises

When it comes to a workplace, no one likes surprises. Transparent communication in teams decreases the risk of not processing vital information and updates, which can affect the overall productivity and final results.

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7 magic ways productive teams encourage transparency and how you can do it:

Understand the benefits of transparency

The first step is to understand the advantages of being transparent with your team members. Become aware that the outcome of transparency is trust, which leads to a faster workflow, which eventually leads to greater achievements. All of your team members are striving to achieve the same.

Be a role model

Communicate openly:

Talk openly. Share your knowledge freely. Offer suggestions. Express your opinion. Be confident in doing all these things and motivate your peers to do the same. Let them feel comfortable to open up and inspired to share ideas by being aware that there are no wrong questions or thoughts, just different viewpoints and beliefs.

Be available:

Make yourself available. Let people feel comfortable to approach you. By doing so, you will encourage your peers to share information frequently and make themselves approachable as well.

Communicate changes in work processes

Not delivering updates regularly can severely decrease a workflow. Some information might seem irrelevant and not necessary at first glance but eventually can become a huge deal if not shared on time. That’s why it’s important to regularly share all updates with your team. Invent your own way of transparent information sharing and do it on a regular basis.

Involve everyone in decision-making processes

Another great way to encourage transparency and commitment, as well as to prove trust in your team is to allow everyone’s opinion to be valued. Let your teammates express their thoughts, rationalize their conclusions and give input in decision-making processes.

Don’t make an assumption - seek to understand

Never guess. It’s a killer for trust and results. The way we observe or perceive situation doesn’t necessarily align with how others do. Misunderstandings are common and happen often in teams. Whenever you are not 100% sure about someone's meaning or further steps that need to be taken, always double check. Sometimes we feel embarrassed to say “I didn’t understand” or “Please, explain, I don’t know that” or “Did you mean A or B?”. Don’t let your ego prevent you from clearing up your doubts; It may not even be your fault - maybe they didn’t explain it properly. Whatever the reason might be, it doesn’t matter - consequences of assuming are much worse than asking for clarification.

Get to know each other personally

Regardless of you having an office job or being a part of a remote team, there is always a way to connect with your teammates in an out-of-office setup, either face-to-face or virtually. Getting to know each other personally is essential for building trust. Understanding a person you work with on a personal level, their values, beliefs, thoughts greatly helps you communicate effectively and collaborate productively. Additionally, casual conversations help you relax and reset and feel more comfortable and joyful to work together afterward.

Create awareness among all team members

A required prerequisite for building such a transparent communication culture lies in creating awareness within the whole team; Transparency must become a part of everyone’s behavior. Build a solid foundation of trust by letting your teammates feel they are a part of the group where every individual is equally respected and where everyone’s opinion is valued. Emphasize the importance of transparency that you’ve just learned and teach them how significant is to support each other’s growth and in that way contribute to the success of the whole team.

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What’s your strategy to foster transparency? Choose one now!

Managers often struggle to define how much information they should share with their employees. They can build walls and keep the company’s data safe, but lose bigger value in return - employees’ trust and loyalty. Employees like to feel they belong to the organization, to feel they are a part of it, not work for it. They want to know they have someone to rely on, to trust, to look up to. The feeling of separation automatically prevents them from reaching their full potential and giving their best input to the final results.

If you feel that your team lacks trust and openness, take the baby steps. Start with small changes. Choose one thing that everyone needs to share, or a subject on which everyone has to be regularly updated, and let it be your unique badge. Come up with your own and original transparency strategy. It doesn’t have to be work related at first. Begin with something that you believe everyone will feel comfortable sharing and slowly build a transparent culture in your team. Once you all fully embrace transparency and when it becomes a part of your team’s culture and behavior, you can start building a real foundation of trust and loyalty and begin practicing the magic ways of encouraging transparency as productive teams do!

And, of course, follow up with your team, make sure to check with them what they think and feel about those organizational changes and adjust your strategy accordingly.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! Share with us how your team practices transparent communication, what is your unique transparency habit, and how it contributes to your success!