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A Move Toward Transparency is a Move Toward Efficiency

By Praveen Tipirneni, CEO of Morphic Therapeutic Inc. Originally published on Quora.

It’s easy to understand why a lack of transparency and a bias toward metaphorical walls came about in the first place: Managers didn’t want their employees concerned with matters that didn’t pertain to their specific jobs. But that is an outdated perspective. The problem is that a lack of transparency has a deeper impact on the efficiency of an employee, and therefore a company.

There are real costs to consider. In this day and age, information advantages are critical.

But transparency goes to a deeper need — the ability to make a choice. This need is so powerful, it may be more important than our survival instinct.

As a CEO, I’ve seen both sides of the coin. And I can confidently say companies with the most transparency are going to be best suited to accomplish their goals because they play into deep-seated, instinctual human needs.

Let’s dive deeper into what transparency can do:

Motivation

We often think survival is our most powerful need. In The Fighter’s Mind: Inside the Mental Game, author Sam Sheridan explores historical evidence of people consciously rushing right into danger, ignoring their survival instinct.

He says, “We choose things that are against our own best interests because the freedom to make that choice is more important than those interests.”

Think of employees. With all the information at hand, employees decide whether or not their work is worth investing time into, rather than just doing what they’re told.

Choice is motivating.

By being transparent, you’re also showing you trust your employees. There’s a risk you’re willing to accept for your employees and company. Transparency makes each employee feel like they are valued and a part of the team. That means they share in the team’s goals, objectives, successes.

But they share in the losses, too.

We have an instinct to shield losses from junior employees. We had a situation like this where we were deciding how transparent to be. One of our fears was that there were going to be ups and downs. How would employees take that? Some might even leave because the downs are too much to handle, especially junior employees who can’t put bad news in context.

But we shared anyways to solidify that we’re all in this together and help motivate employee during down times.

Efficiency

Motivation is time. Proper motivation leads to the most significant benefit of transparency in the workplace: efficiency.

When everyone has access, status meetings are less important, and employees can better spend their time working on tasks that matter. You no longer have to play catch-up or risk a lapse in communication between people or groups that weren’t privy to the same information.

In a biopharmaceutical company with large, multi-disciplinary teams, this could be a major advantage.

What’s more, when objectives and information are readily available, employees can take their own initiative to work toward the company’s goals. They can start new groups, contribute to others they aren’t normally part of, take up new projects that specifically speak to them, or take the lead without being told to.

Purpose

We did an exercise last year and created a personal Operating System (OS) for everybody. One question everyone answered was, “What is the best way to ask you to do something?” Almost everyone needed to know why they were being asked to do something.

When an employee knows where their work stands in the grand objective of the company, the better they generally feel about it, the greater their sense of pride.

It used to be that employees were given a strategy document with various metrics, goals, assumptions, and outcomes as they relate to their specific job — but never the strategies of other jobs and departments. By having all the information available at an enterprise level, the employee can see how their work helps to function in terms of the whole.

When people see the big picture and understand why they’re being asked to do something, it provides energy and purpose.

Transparent Tech

Emerging technologies have made it easier than ever for companies to make all of their information transparent.

Cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive allow virtual access of information at all points — not just at in the office. And apps like Slack allow companies to create different channels based on groups, departments, and interests. Anyone can access each group or see the latest updates.

Because you can choose your own level of involvement, certain projects and tasks will be undertaken only by those necessary or interested.

When we were designing our new website, we created a Slack channel just for website design. Everyone in the company could join or post if they wanted, but only those who were interested participated. This meant no one was wasting their time going to meetings that didn’t pertain to them.

The transparency of the channel meant that anyone could contribute ideas, no matter how big or small, without having to commit to being part of a lengthy undertaking.

Transparency gives your employees the tools and confidence to put themselves into the work, and feel they’re trusted to come up with their own solutions. It makes them go from working for the machine to being a part of the machine. This elevates the work from being simply a job to something much greater.

It helps your employees be the best they can be. And when your employees are working at their most optimal capacity, so is your company.

By Praveen Tipirneni, CEO of Morphic Therapeutic Inc. Originally published on Quora.
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