How Transparent Culture Fosters Performance in Teams

Whether you believe in corporate organizational business culture or not, you are part of one. From Fortune 500 companies down to the solopreneur working out of their garage there exists a set of values and beliefs that underpin actions. Today I want us to focus on transparency and how transparent culture fosters performance.

What is Business Culture?

Also known as organizational culture or more colloquially as “corporate culture”, culture in an organization is really just a microcosm of culture in society. In other words, culture is merely a shared belief of values and norms by a group of people. More accurately, you could say that an organizations culture is technically a sub-culture in the sociological sense of the word.

Corporate Culture
You would not believe how hard it is to find “corporate” stock images where people are not giving a thumbs up, shaking hands, or high-fiving each other.

For example, when I said “corporate culture” did you picture suits, conference tables, cubicles, water coolers, and TPS reports? Well that is ONE type of corporate culture, but it is by no means the only one.

What do I mean when I say Transparent?

Simple I mean the literal definition of transparent,

adjective: transparent

– (of a material or article) allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen.
– easy to perceive or detect.
– having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily perceived.
– (of an organization or its activities) open to public scrutiny.

Definition from

A Candidate’s Impact on How Transparent Culture Fosters Performance in Teams

Even before you join an organization you should be able to see how they value transparency. Just review the job posts of a company you are looking at joining and you can see what kind of care they are taking to ensure the right people join their org.

A Transparent Job Posting Should Have

  • What the hiring process is?
    • Timeframe – whether a hiring process is 1 week or 3 months makes a huge difference to candidates who are between jobs.
    • Who is involved in the decision process – are you meeting just with HR? Will you get to meet with your potential direct manager? Are you meeting subject matter experts?
    • What kind of tests will be given and how long will they take – do you need to provide free / trial work to be considered?
  • Who do you report to?
    • Titles / organizational structure vary from company to company, understanding who you report to tells you a lot about the size of the company and their structure.
    • Departmental overlap – being a shared resource, ie having two bosses adds complexity in demand and politics.
  • What will you be measured on?
    • What does success look like for you – what are your KPI’s, if there are ones you haven’t even heard of you probably shouldn’t waste your time applying for that job. If on the flip side, you spot vanity metrics and poor measures of performance you are likely overqualified and could be unsatisfied with the level of maturity in that position.
  • What are the common day to day responsibilities?
    • You need to know what you are going to be doing. This doesn’t need to cover absolutely every little thing that comes up but it should be a common list. Just like with KPI’s if a candidate can look at their day to day they can self identify if they can perform those duties or not.
  • What is the compensation philosophy of the organization
    • At least a starting number or range – companies who don’t publish this are generally trying to lowball you or have not done sufficient research into the market to provide a benchmark (neither is a great sign for a company you would want to join).
    • Compensation is more than salary, what do they believe in terms of recognized holidays, PTO, healthcare, childcare, etc? Wouldn’t it be terrible if you joined for a salary only to find out you will be working every Christmas and paying your own healthcare.

An Employee’s Impact on How Transparent Culture Fosters Performance in Teams

Being part of any organization means you are part of a business culture, even if it’s just one person. As an employee decisions and actions you make will either support or subvert the existing culture.

Good Employee Transparency Practices

  • Report when things are confusing don’t just absorb and deal with confusion.
    • If you are confused by instructions or a process, chances are someone else is too. If everyone internalizes the issue then it never gets fixed.
  • Learn to understand the factors of your performance.
    • You have numbers you have to hit, great….but do you know what makes those numbers go up or down? Is this discussed between fellow workers or hoarded like secrets to success? Help contribute to a culture that brings everyone up not one that puts others in the dark to make yourself look better.
  • Discuss when things are not fair or you don’t agree with them
    • Don’t internalize interpersonal issues. At the end of the day you may not understand everything going on in a company or there may not be resources to give you everything you need but it is sure better to KNOW than to assume. When disgruntled employees leave suddenly that is bad for the organization. When disgruntled employees leave because they have mutually determined with their employer a bad fit that is a win because both sides got to plan for it.

A Business Leader’s Impact on How a Culture of Transparency leads to Performance in Operations

Being a business leader means decisions you make directly affect the perception of the culture and organization. More than anything you need to lead by example and in line with the organizations goals. You may be the most brilliant XYZ the company has ever heard of but if you are leading a cultural mutiny that undermines the values of the organization don’t expect to be sticking around much longer.

Good Business Leader Transparent Actions

  • Own your mistakes
    • No one is going to take you seriously as a leader if you are “holier than thou” when it comes to the people you oversee. Transparency goes with it the good and the bad. People want good human managers that they can relate with or aspire to be like.
  • Own your shortcomings
    • Many times as a leader you are not a subject matter expert you are a business one. You should not know more about how others do a job they spend 40 hours a week doing. Lean on and respect the knowledge and experience of those who can provide it. This demonstrates both rationality and open mindedness to your team.
  • Give clear instructions to employees.
    • If you aren’t giving clear instructions (hopefully in writing somewhere public where it can be seen, verified, and repeatable), then you should not be surprised when people do not do tasks correctly.
  • Give clear metrics and targets for success as well as progress reports
    • If your business requires employees produce 100 widgets a day a day you need to tell them that. Also make sure that they have a easily referenced running score so at anytime they know if they are failing or succeeding.
  • Give clear support and instruction for how to achieve success
    • Telling someone to make 100 widgets is only HALF the battle. How they make the widgets in terms of process will determine the speed and quality of those widgets. The more you can take the collective knowledge of your team of experts and make it everyone’s public process the better your team will perform.
  • Manage expectations for incentives and earning opportunities
    • Do you have good employees that do great work? Well I am sure you want to keep them. Make sure they know how they can earn more or be rewarded. Even those underperforming employees will find motivation in certain incentive programs.
  • Manage expectations for growth opportunity
    • Make sure people know where they can go. Is this a dead end job? Will they ever be supporting a family on their widget money? Long term employees need to know this and employers need to know the projected lifespan of a hire in that position so they can be replaced over time.

Summary of How Transparent Culture Fosters Performance

No matter what size a company you work for, or where you are in an organization, you affect the culture around you. Pushing for a culture of transparency will lower you hiring / recruiting cost by filtering out bad fit candidates. That transparency will improve individual employee happiness as they understand and feel they contribute to their work. It will also improve retention and unplanned employee churn because people know if they are in the right position and how long that road can take them. And most of all, it will foster greater performance and output as both targets and process improvements are aligned and shared.

Performance over time

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Check out the list of planned topics on our homepage Is there a specific business topic you’d like to see covered? Send me a request and I’ll try to get it on the map.

How a Culture of Transparency leads to Performance in Operations
Article Name
How a Culture of Transparency leads to Performance in Operations
Learn how transparent culture fosters performance in teams and how bad recruiting practices will lead your organization to failure.
Publisher Name
Nathaniel Kam | On Technology and Operations
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