Digital Demands Transparent Leaders, Open Communications


This sixth and final blog post explains why IT organizations need a new standard of transparency in communicating and leading their digitally prepared workforce. With the digital economy comes constantly shifting priorities as companies become hyper-responsive to their customers’ needs and wants. The millennials who will staff IT organizations want to be led by executives who openly share not just career path details but the “big picture” of where the company and its markets are headed. Being involved in “more than just the work” is essential if IT organizations are to attract and retain millennials with digital skill sets. Embracing the principles outlined “Partnering with Intent: A new approach to dealing with the shortage of tech talent,” Rural Sourcing’s white paper on workforce management in the digital age, shows IT leaders why a collaborative culture and transparency are vital to success.

Transparency: Key to Success in the Digital Economy

Maintaining the transparency of a startup – when everyone knew everything – is challenging as a company grows. Successful organizations have employed different methods in order to do so. For example, at one technology company, every employee works to a specific set of OKRs (objectives and key results). Although it’s not mandatory to post OKRs for all to see, 80% of their employees do. In addition, the CEO’s weekly calls to review OKRs with the company’s 150 directors quickly identifies which parts of the company that on track and which are not. This review helps mid-level leaders to look beyond their own departments’ metrics to view performance and results company-wide.

In addition to keeping everyone informed about how the company or organization is doing, transparency can improve productivity, boost engagement and help retention.

  • A company with 106 employees reported a lower than average rate of unnecessary meetings. This unexpected, productivity-inducing benefit was directly attributed to the company’s open communications and transparency.
  • Another corporate proponent of transparency said that letting employees know the “why” behind their assignments built trust and engagement. If two teams need to be consolidated, everyone involved knows why the move is necessary which not only helps the consolidated group move forward efficiently, it minimizes the speculation that usually accompanies organizational changes. This transparency takes on expanded importance when partners provide digital talent to composite teams. When realignments combine both internal and partnerprovided talent into teams, roles and purposes must be clearly communicated and understood in order to remove suspicion and achieve the additive cultural mix.
  • At a third company, the importance of transparency is underscored with a CEO who shares her online calendar with every employee. Visibility into what the company’s top executive is doing allows employees to see what’s important and put their own roles into context. She pointed out that the company receives good marks from employees posting on Glassdoor, and retention is high as well.

For some, empowering a free-flow of information across IT may seem like an unachievable goal. Here are five easy ways to get started in building a transparent culture from the ground up or improving upon the current level of openness:

  1. Be honest. A leader’s openness and honesty will set the stage for safely giving and receiving feedback across the organization.
  2. Share results. Resist the urge to downplay failures. These missteps often offer a highly effective learning opportunity.
  3. Break down silos. A majority of senior executives (80%) participating in a poll by McKinsey said that communication was critical for growth, while only a handful (25%) felt their organizations were doing a good job in sharing information across the company.
  4. Hire people who care about transparency. Feature your company’s commitment to transparency in job descriptions and ask candidates to explain what transparency means to them in interviews.
  5. Choose tools that support transparency. On average, employees in your organization are wasting 20% of their time every week trying to locate information they need or enlist others’ assistance. Go beyond shared drives to employ open communication platforms and project software designed for collaboration.

Digital’s fast pace of change leaves little margin of error for IT organizations to operate inefficiently. The continued scarcity of digital talent demands that leadership transparently communicates how, when and why partner companies’ staff can help accelerate organizational transformation. Working with partners contributes to improved project outcomes and guides the effort to speed revenue to the bottom line. Taking a transparent approach to communicating with employees and leading them through change enables your teams to understand who fits where. By communicating the contribution of all members, including partners, in achieving the company goals leaders can achieve the elusive digital trifecta of being decisive, innovative, and nimble.


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