Building on my last post, merging our team and culture into another’s has served as a contrasting agent, gifting the ability to understand more intentional culture design.
Beyond ownership, one core value I hold near and dear to my heart is transparency. I’ve long held the belief that it’s not just better (on a variety of measures), it’s just easier to have no filter in your communication with your team and stakeholders.
When walking new hires through our values, we shared that the second worst thing you could do is withhold information (the first was lie).
The nuances, however, have become very important to me.
First and foremost, having the right context – and being respectful of the context, is key. While in the past I’ve felt comfortable sharing information (whether high-level business decisions or even block-and-tackle working docs) with a wider group, everyone sees it through a different set of eyes and information. A stakeholder may see an internal document and miss the information that would be helpful to understand the overall strategy. Or an individual contributor might hear about a decision and not understand the full details of the strategy or norms.
In addition to lacking the right context, information without insights and prescriptions can be harmful. If the information or data being presented has any relevance or interest to the viewer, they will naturally desire an interpretation of the information, or at least “what are we going to do about it.” If you don’t provide it, they will. While there are surely times where you may withhold the latter pieces to allow others to come to their own conclusion, that should only be used if you are particularly welcoming to a diversity of thought.
Last, but most importantly – there are times to not be transparent. While my default state remains to hold nothing back, I’ve learned that transparency is a tool – and like all tools, it may not be right for every situation.
When we decided to start sharing our potential M&A plans with our team, they naturally quickly jumped to “I thought things are going great, why are we selling?” and “do I have a job?” – despite our general understanding they would, without clear offers in hand yet, many got concerned.