Transparency: Does Your Company “Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk?”

“I am sorry, but we have already identified someone for that role.” The next question was, “how could that be, the job was just posted on the Internet?”

What my friend had just found out is a little dirty secret in some organizations. Sometimes when jobs are posted, and even when they are not, hiring managers already have someone lined up for the opportunity. What message does that send?

My friend was beside himself; what he found out was that this is the norm within this company. There is not much movement so there is a thirst for advancement, but unless you are in the clique, your thirst will not be quenched

I remember back when I worked for IBM that we always pushed internal advancement in an open and transparent process. We posted open positions internally on Thursday’s. It became such a great initiative that we had everyone checking their computer as soon as they hit their desk on Thursday.

Look inside first

Although we did hire a great number of internal hires, we also brought in talent from the outside. However, our message was that we want you here and we want you to consider us in your career goals rather than looking outside. This sent a strong message.

Transparency is a word that we all hear about. Declining trust within the organization and increased public scrutiny, coupled with the major bullhorn of social media, has to drive companies to become more transparent. This transparency should be visible to not only investors, but the employees as well.

Organizations today have no choice. Transparency is no longer just an option. No matter how hard leaders try to “hide” something, the truth will always raise its head.

If that is the case, it’s always best for all involved to behave ethically and talk openly. ALWAYS!

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Think of the aftershock, and the fire that would be caused, by not doing so. And, think of the countless hours trying to put that fire out. When you do, and after that the smoldering continues, the process of building trust starts all over again.

Transparency should involve five (5)  key touch points within the organization:

  • Business strategy — Every quarter during the earnings call, the investment community gets a chance to look under the company’s hood. Why not create a forum to talk to the employees about that same strategy and show everyone where we are and where we are headed?
  • The Leaders — Are your leaders accessible? More importantly, do your employees feel that they are accessible? The internal audience is the engine that is powering the company. This is an important audience, and leaders must connect.
  • Employees — Your employees reinforce the company brand. From the initial touch point of a recruiter to the employee practices within the organization, transparency must rule.
  • Values and Culture — What does your organization stand for? Do you “talk the talk and walk the walk?” Many companies talk a good game but act differently. Think of all the statements on websites that state “People are our greatest asset.” Would your employees say that that statement is correct?
  • The Organization — The way that your company operates should not be a secret. You should be an open book; you should create the glass house.

An organization today should not feel backed into a corner with this quest for openness. Today, it is simply the right thing to do. The days of “behind the mahogany doors” shenanigans are over and they will not return.

The companies that will right themselves after the past few years of business turmoil will get this. They will begin by taking steps to root out all the inconsistencies in their messages so that they are clear in what they tell that most important audience — their employees — going forward.

To succeed they must connect. Your employees are waiting.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.


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