Cultivating Transparency

I am regularly told that one of my best qualities is my transparency, which is  one of the greatest compliments that I could be given. But, in a world where almost every company is billing itself as "transparent," the word seems to have picked up an occasional inauthenticity associated with its buzziness. How can we collectively work against "transparency" becoming just another meaningless catch-phrase  that companies use to brand themselves? We can take it upon ourselves to truly cultivate it in our life and work. Below are a few steps that I've found helpful in growing my own personal and professional transparency and allowing it to thrive.

Admit your mistakes

It is hard to say that you've done something wrong; it's embarrassing and requires eating a pretty large slice of humble pie, especially when it's in the face of someone else's success. With that being said, mistakes are a great learning opportunity both for yourself and your company. If you've made a mistake, or done something less well than you expected to, use it as a chance to reflect on what you could have done better. What went wrong? What was the cause of it? It might be good to talk about with your team, team-lead or partner in the project, as sometimes they have some outside perspective that puts things into focus and sways the possibility for self-hate and doubt into a learning opportunity. Just because something didn't work out as well as it could have the first time doesn't mean that you can't do it better next time. 

Also, write post-mortems always. Do it whether the project was a screaming success, or perhaps went a little bit sideways. This keeps a record for things to think about moving forward, and gives you a catalog to look back on for reviews and your own personal goal-setting.

Encourage open dialog

Create an environment where you and your teammates are comfortable giving and taking feedback. Feedback can be both constructive or positive, and you should expect both freely. The above example of admitting your mistakes is a great opportunity to open up the floor for commentary. Something that I've taken to doing, after each wrap-up meeting for a project, is asking for feedback from the members of other teams. "Is there something that I could have done better, or that would have made the process go more smoothly for you? What would you have liked to see more of? Was there anything that I did particularly well?" It might seem a bit like overkill, but it is super-important to make sure that you invite the feedback—some people might not feel as comfortable just coming right out and saying it, especially if it's constructive. By opening the floor and letting them know that you want to hear it, you will get much more valuable critique and compliment for your future growth.

Make your goals public

I am of the firm belief that both team and individual goals benefit strongly from being made public. The first reason for this is because of an increased sense of accountability: if you tell your whole company that you will do something by a certain time and don't end up doing it, you should expect them to ask why. Companies and teams fragment when goals are not aligned. It is also possible that you'll be asked why you made your goals in the first place. Being asked "Why" is one of the best things you can do when you are planning out the future of your team. Why do you want things to change? You should be able to explain this with clarity to the rest of your company, and have them be on board. If not, you might want to set different goals or reassess what's driving you towards them.

Secondarily, making your goals available so that any one in your organization can find them shows a sense of trust. You want people to trust what you are doing, and also want to trust them to have faith in your choices.

There is a ton more to transparency than I would ever be able to fit in a single blog post or blog, especially if you are trying to implement it into your company culture. With the three things above, though, you should be cooking with gas in no-time. What are some ways that you promote a transparent culture in your company or team?