Demands of Transparency
In many ways, we live in a time of extreme transparency. From product reviews and political opinions to knowing exactly what your coworker ate for dinner – not much is hidden. But with so much out there, people are more skeptical and less trusting, constantly questioning: What’s real and who can I trust? As a result, people are demanding more from the businesses they work for and the brands they buy from. People don’t want a sea of information and opinions. They want real, honest, authentic, and transparent brands that ring true at every moment.
The Need for Transparency with Employees
It’s no surprise that employees consider transparency within the workplace as one of the top factors determining happiness and satisfaction in the workplace. People don’t want to risk working for a company that isn’t transparent about what it stands for, where it’s headed, and how it’s going to get there – challenges, obstacles, and admittances included.
And although many businesses and their leaders may get away with not being transparent, more often than not, it’s short-lived. If business is good, people are less likely to ask questions. But in reality, however successful, every business runs into bumps along the road at some point. Markets shift. People make mistakes. Challenges and obstacles arise. Sometimes, things just don’t go your way. And often times, employees are left wondering: How did this happen? Why didn’t someone warn me? Should I look elsewhere? When leaders don’t focus on transparency, even a small blip can leave the people who matter to your brand feeling betrayed and lied to.
This is when transparency really starts to become an issue. So how do you turn around a brand that is having transparency issues? First off, transparency happens from the inside out. It originates with transparent leaders. In order to build a trustworthy brand, you need transparent leadership.
Transparency Takes Work
But being a transparent leader isn’t always easy. Many leaders don’t consider it a necessary aspect of their job. And even when they do, it’s hard to admit you’ve made a mistake, led people astray, or even, just need help. Oftentimes, leaders believe being transparent might distract from their power and control. Other times, leaders think it’s in the best interest of their employees to keep them in the dark. And for leaders who are used to keeping things to themselves, it’s hard to start sharing realities with employees.
Making this shift in behavior might not be easy, but in the end, transparent leaders who share successes, challenges, mistakes, and intentions help create brands that are perceived as truthful, trustworthy, and transparent. And these are the brands that can survive any blip in the road. What makes these brands so resilient?
- Build long-term respect, trust, and loyalty. Employees respect and trust leaders who are real with them, even in the worst of times. People are more likely to come together and rally behind a leader they respect and feel has earned their loyalty and trust. Loyal employees are more likely to stick it out during rough times, celebrate during good, and be long-term advocates of the brand to the outside world. And in the end, employees are the most important brand champions you can have.
- Create more sustainable, efficient business. When employees are more aware of business goals and objectives, or even challenges, they can work from a place of complete knowledge. Feeling like everyone is in-the-know makes it more likely for teams to come together and solve problems in the most efficient, sustainable way. Leaders and employees become more comfortable sharing opinions, perspectives, asking for help, and taking educated risks if they feel like they work in an open work environment. This leads to increased productivity. It also leads to increased creativity. Productivity and creativity help move the brand and business forward.
- Promote an aligned and unified workplace. Transparency is a powerful unifier. Because it decreases the risk of misunderstandings, people are more likely to be on the same page and aligned behind common goals, values, and larger aspirations. Because there is no “hush-hush” or differing levels of feeling “in-the-know” amidst leaders and employees, everyone feels as though they matter and can have an impact.
- Decrease the risk of issues down the road. When employees trust their leaders and the direction of the business as a whole, there are less PR nightmares, social media snafus, and HR problems. People who feel like they are part of a brand that they can trust and that aligns with their values are more likely to have the brand’s best interest in mind. When recruiting, transparency can help find the right people to drive your business.
In the end, loyal and productive employees will be your brand’s biggest assets. When employees feel like they are a part of a brand that has earned their loyalty, customers will feel this too – from the way employees interact with customers, to what they post on social media, or how they talk with brands about their work. All these moments matter, especially when trying to turnaround a brand with previous transparency issues.
Brands that want to build a transparent, unified, trustworthy brand need to start from the inside and move out.
When leaders are transparent, your people thrive, and as a result, your business will too.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco branding agency.