And don’t worry—you don’t have to share your salary if you don’t want to. That’s not the point. But we do need to get serious about transparency internally if we’re going to thrive as organizations for one very important reason:
Making things more visible increases the quality of decisions that get made throughout the organization.
This is huge. We need better decisions, every day, at every level. Traditional management says we achieve this by distributing information on a “need to know” basis, but in today’s complex, fast-paced world, the center of an organization can’t know who needs to know ahead of time. So if you make things visible to everyone, you enable that better decision making, because those people will end up having that critical piece of information, right at the time they needed it.
So tell your people things. I know that sounds like overly simplistic advice, but it’s a gem I got years ago from a senior manager in the Federal Government, of all places:
“Tell your people things. Because if you don’t tell them, they’ll make it up. And I guarantee that what they make up will be worse than the truth.”
Tell people what the senior team talks about in those meetings they have all the time. Tell people the nuances behind your strategic decisions. Heck, tell people when the answer is “I don’t know.” Remember that every time you decide to withhold information out of fear that releasing it might have bad consequences, you’re providing an opportunity for your people to MAKE UP SOMETHING even worse.