Communication is one of the biggest challenges that we see at companies today. Whether it’s leadership sharing major updates, managers having candid discussions on promotions, or colleagues sharing peer feedback, communicating effectively is often difficult to get right.
What’s more, organizational transparency plays a large role in key business outcomes, meaningfully impacting retention, engagement, and productivity:
- 70% of employees stated that they were most interested and engaged when their leaders communicated company information and results on a regular basis
- 35% of employees said they were likely to leave their company because of they don’t trust their manager
- 50% of employees felt that their employers were not giving them all the information they needed to be successful in their jobs
Results from Reflektive’s 2020 Performance Management Benchmark Report also indicate that employees aren’t receiving enough information from their company:
- Only 19% of employees agree that their organization is transparent about upward mobility opportunities
- Only 21% agree that their organization is transparent about potential salary freezes and pay cuts
- 25% of employees do not know how to request feedback at their companies
These data points contrast sharply with employee needs, which include more visibility. In the same benchmark report, Reflektive uncovered that employees want more support via:
- Consistent communication from leadership
- Consistent communication from colleagues
- All-Hands meetings
- Recognition for hard work and successes
- Regular feedback
So how can organizations provide consistent communication, including recognition and feedback? Our recommendations below include actionable steps that HR teams, leaders, managers, and employees can take to make their company a better place to work.
HR Best Practices
There are several policies and programs that HR teams can launch to drive organizational transparency. We recommend that companies of all sizes start with the following best practices:
- Have the right tools in place to boost communication. Ensure that all employees have access to email, a messaging platform such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, and a video tool to communicate effectively. Ideally, employees can provide recognition and plan for 1:1s on these platforms too.
- Establish work norms. By setting guidelines early on, employees are more likely to stay connected and productive. We recommend the following best practices for all employees:
- Use project planning tools such as Wrike, Asana, or Jira to clearly define and communicate responsibilities and timelines
- Ask peers how they like to communicate, such as their preferred channels, level of detail, and level of informality
- Instill your workplace culture by celebrating work anniversaries, business milestones, and other accomplishments
- Promote an open-door policy. Offering an open-door policy for communication is key to creating a psychologically safe workplace environment. Employees need to know that their voice will be heard when they approach their manager with whatever it is they are struggling with at work. Whether it’s a sexual harassment complaint, a request to work in a different office, or a roadblock with a project, it’s important to take on each conversation with empathy and an open ear.
- Use a goal management system to create accountability and transparency. Platforms for goal management enable employees to see key priorities for the organization, and learn what their leaders, managers, and colleagues are working on. What’s more, the ability to view goal completion rates helps employees have candid, productive conversations on what’s working and what isn’t, and helps team members improve their performance. For instance, Reflektive’s Goals solution enabled HelpSystems to achieve key organizational objectives through improved alignment and tracking; the company increased international software bookings by 30%, and boosted new product revenue from existing customers by $3 million.
Executive Best Practices
Leaders play a key role in shaping an organization’s culture of transparency. We encourage executives and HR teams to partner together to bring these practices to life:
- Hold regularly-scheduled All-Hands meetings to share updates. At Reflektive, we have a monthly All-Hands meeting that accommodates employees across different time zones. We’ll share major developments, and executives will highlight key accomplishments and learnings during the past month. We always make sure there’s time for Q&A, so that employees can ask questions that may be top-of-mind for their colleagues too.
- Gather regular feedback from employees. Executives can learn about employee sentiment after major events, as well as ongoing company programs and policies. These insights can help them continuously improve their communication, and they can learn how to better support their workforce during times of transition. At Reflektive, we use our engagement surveys to gather sentiment on leadership communication, and we also send polls after our All-Hands meetings to learn how we can continuously improve them.
- Schedule skip-level meetings. Leaders can further improve corporate transparency by having 1:1 meetings with managers and individual contributors. Not only do these syncs provide an opportunity for executives to share more information on their key priorities and projects, but leaders can also learn from employees on what’s going well, and areas of improvement for the company.
- Celebrate & recognize wins! Hard work and project milestones should be recognized to boost both visibility and morale. Use Slack / Microsoft Teams, email, and your public recognition wall to make those exciting moments visible to everyone. Companies can also glean meaningful business results with their recognition culture; Brad’s Deals’ new check-in and kudos programs helped decrease turnover by 76%!
Manager Best Practices
Managers are a key partner in scaling organizational transparency. They can communicate company-wide updates in a personalized way, and they shed more light on promotion and pay raise decisions. Some key best practices for managers are available below:
- Schedule recurring 1:1 meetings with all direct reports. There’s no better way to drive ongoing manager-employee communication than with weekly 1:1 meetings. Not only are 1:1s an excellent forum to discuss organizational updates, but they also enable managers to provide timely, relevant feedback. 1:1 meetings also build comfort levels in the manager-employee relationship, as both parties become accustomed to interacting and discussing a wide range of topics. Physicians Insurance encourages employees to cover professional growth and performance expectations in their 1:1 meetings.
- Hold 2-3 team standups each week. These team meetings provide support, alignment, and visibility. Managers can ask team members what they accomplished and what they’re working on now. Standups are particularly valuable when employees are remote, as they provide a forum for social connection too.
- Be transparent in performance conversations. While many organizations separate performance and pay conversations, transparency in both is critical. Share the criteria in which the employee was evaluated, and the specific reasons for decisions on the rating, promotion, and/or pay raise. This clarity will help instill fairness and transparency into the performance conversation.
Employee Best Practices
All employees can contribute to an open, accessible workplace culture! With feedback and regular communications, they can improve work life for themselves and their peers:
- Request and provide feedback after major work milestones. To boost professional growth and development, all employees should request and provide feedback from peers. The feedback will help people collaborate more effectively, and identify areas of improvement for future projects. Team members can request feedback after a new product is launched, a new partnership is live, or a deal is closed.
- Overcommunicate on collaboration tools. Staying connected and aligned can be challenging, especially in an era of remote work. Provide reminders of upcoming events and deadlines, and let team members know what you’re working on. In some collaboration tools, you can pin phone numbers, documents, and other helpful information for easy access!
- Document everything and make it easily shareable. This helps your peers easily get caught up on your projects. At Reflektive, we ensure that most of our work is in the Shared drive so folks can access it, and we have a great record of our accomplishments over the years!
If your organization is looking to boost transparency, accountability, and alignment, schedule a consult with a Reflektive expert.