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 internal transparency 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, it’s not possible for the center of an organization to know who needs to information ahead of time. If you make things visible to everyone, you enable better decision making, because everyone has access to the critical information right when they need it.
Tell your people things. I know that sounds overly simplistic, 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.