Radical transparency - The good, the bad, the ugly

Overcoming the hurdles of radical Transparency

Now that we know what radical transparency is, what it looks like in a working environment and what benefits it brings along with it, we need to know the potential challenges it can bring and how we can deal with them! There is no doubt that radical transparency has huge benefits on both company and individual levels, but it is important to note that there can be some potential cons of implementing this type of company structure into your own. Each person that is involved in the radical transparency structure, is affected differently.

The Challenges of Radical Transparency

Despite the biggest challenge that could occur, that the company is simply not ready, the challenges that radical transparency can bring are generally at an individual level. One of the first challenges is that the employees become bogged down when making decisions, leading to potential decision fatigue. This challenge is created by employees feeling that their choices are too exposed to everyone, leading them to spend more time weighing up all the possibilities, and causing them to either never decide, become emotionally involved with the decision or become fatigued in their decision making.

Another challenge that could arise when implementing this structure is along a similar vein, performance anxiety. Individuals may become weighed down under the fact that everyone can see how they are performing and how their tasks are affecting the company, either positively or negatively. The root of this performance anxiety is fearing failure that other people can see. Workplace performance anxiety is very common even in a normal working environment, but the heightened anxiety of everything being seen by everyone, even leadership failures can be seen by all. No wonder there is potential for increased working performance anxiety!

The final challenge I’ll touch on before we look at the solutions is at a company level. What if the company isn’t ready for radical transparency? There could be severe implications if this were to happen. As I said in last week’s article, this kind of structure can’t be implemented well in one day. Company culture takes a long time to build, so it will take a long time to change, and that is healthy! Bringing radical transparency into the company too quickly can scare employees, reduce productivity, and have negative effects on morale. These negative effects are everything we are trying to avoid, through implementing radical transparency.

What are the solutions?

Radical Transparency can be done well, but it requires the right foundation and a solid foundation of good intentions. Transparency should always be built on a foundation of trust and safety. Whatever foundation it is built upon, will be revealed during the process. If it is built upon genuine trust and safety, trust and safety will be what this structure breeds. When it is implemented well, it will foster trust and a sense of safety. And the result of trust and safety is that employees will feel more comfortable asking questions and will feel a heightened sense of belonging, rather than the threat from the structure of transparency. So, the first solution seems simple, but it is incredibly important…build radical transparency upon trust and safety!

Psychological safety is essential to any employee’s capacity to perform to a high level, so finding ways to increase the psychological safety of employees can help avoid performance anxiety and decision fatigue! Some ways to cultivate psychological safety in the workplace are to show active concern for team members, to ensure there are multiple ways for employees to voice their opinions, to show value for input, be honest about change and own mistakes. All these psychological safety building blocks will help employees find reassurance that they are valued and their voice matters, no matter how high or low they are in the chain.

Say you’ve read last week’s article and this one and you don’t think your company is ready for radical transparency just yet, that’s okay! Just because it is not ready now, doesn’t mean it won’t be ready in the future. And just because it isn’t ready for the whole structure to be transparent, it doesn’t mean that you can’t start with just a few things. To ensure the longevity of your company, take it one thing at a time, and if you’re at the top, consider being brutally honest with yourself and asking the hard questions. “Am I ready to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly?”, “Does my character create a good starting point for radical transparency?” or “Will my employees thrive under this structure? Am I ready to implement a big change?”

Over to you!

Seems easy enough, right? Well, now it’s over to you! It’s time to be brutally honest with yourself and decide if radical transparency is the work environment structure for you. As I said last week, radical transparency is not the only structure that you can implement that brings about increased work ethic and trust amongst your employees, but it is a great way to do it! Check the motives and the foundation, ask the hard questions and be ready to take your company to the next level!

References

Optimizely. (n.d.). Decision Fatigue. Optimizely. https://www.optimizely.com/optimization-glossary/decision-fatigue/

Fix PDQ. (2020). Radical transparency and its impact on our teams. Fix PDQ. https://www.fixpdq.com/what-is-radical-transparency-and-how-does-it-impact-organizational-behaviour/

Carson College of Business. (n.d.). What is radical transparency? Carson College of Business. https://onlinemba.wsu.edu/blog/what-is-radical-transparency/

Bosler, S. (2021). 9 strategies to create psychological safety at work. Quantum Workplace. https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/create-psychological-safety-in-the-workplace

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