This week’s question: ABC seemed to blindside television host Kelly Ripa when it suddenly told her Michael Strahan would leave their popular “Live with Kelly & Michael” program. As an employer, do you value transparency with your workers? Are there times when transparency with employees can actually be harmful to an institution’s success?
In both my personal and professional experience change is inevitable and people handle change better when they are prepared for it. This is especially true if they perceive the change to be detrimental or if they feel that the change impacted them and they were not brought into the loop. By being transparent we can help employees understand why the change is occurring and how that change will impact both the near and distant future for the better.
Alejandro Badia, orthopedic surgeon and founder, OrthoNOW
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Transparency is something that all corporations or institutions should strive for whenever possible as a way to improve communication and build loyalty among employees. But there are definitely times when transparency is not appropriate. If you are considering promoting someone, you typically would not disclose that to your whole team until it’s official. The same goes for a company that is pursuing a new line of business or proprietary development. It would not be appropriate for an entrepreneur to disclose to investors or a large number of employees a new product she is considering launching. Any executive needs to walk a fine line regarding what should or should not be disclosed and when is the right time for disclosure.
Hilarie Bass, co-president, Greenberg Traurig
Transparency is usually the best policy. It takes a team to be successful and people have to buy in to support the effort. If you involve team members in the decision-making process and communicate effectively, then there is greater synergy and commitment. However, it is not always possible to share everything with everyone. When there are legal issues, or protecting an individual’s private information, then confidentiality takes precedence. Good leadership is about knowing what information to share and what to keep in closer circles. It seems to me that the example quoted here possibly indicated a lack of respect. Treating every member of the team with respect is also a best practice in business.
Peggy Benua, general manager, Dream South Beach
We support transparency with our employees. There are, however, a few times when transparency could hurt the institution or individual involved. In these circumstances, careful and reasoned judgment must determine whether transparency outweighs the potential harm to any of the parties involved.
Sister Linda Bevilacqua, president, Barry University
I have always tried to be transparent with my staff, colleagues and clients. Transparency breeds trust, confidence and understanding of the decisions made in a company. As president/CEO of Friends of The Underline, we are always updating our Board of Directors on our rapid-fire movement. Plus, we also inform the public and the many collaborating agencies with email updates on financial and project developments. We can never over-communicate.
Meg Daly, president and CEO, Friends of The Underline
As an employer, I highly value transparency with my employees. The most productive work environment is one that is free of pretense, deceit and misinformation. I have learned that in an environment where there is not transparency, you get an “us-and-them” mentality, which leads to more misinformation, because the people who know, do not talk, and the people who talk, do not know. All could be avoided if everybody knew, and they know because the “Boss” told them.
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami
Transparency and privacy can be at odds. The desire of one person to know may impinge on another person’s desire for confidentiality. It very much depends on the circumstances whether total transparency is appropriate. Business managers have the right to make that determination and live by the consequences of their decision.
Vicky Garrigo, market head, U.S. Southeastern Region Private Banking, HSBC Bank
There are many ways to develop a healthy organization, and, clearly, being transparent with your employees goes a long way toward creating the kind of environment that makes for a happy work place. It’s not always possible, but communicating with your employees honestly and openly is a goal every business owner ought to have.
Mitch Kaplan, founder, Books & Books
Transparency is critically important to building a culture of collaboration and trust. However, there needs to be an awareness that at times, for the benefit of the business or respective clients, other factors have to be considered and taken into account. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. You need transparency to properly run your business and create a positive work environment and culture for the team. But as a leader, sometimes you have the duty to make tough decisions on whether transparency should be yielded for the overall benefit of the organization, the clients and employees.
Alan Kleber, managing director, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle)
In this age of instant communication, we need to embrace transparency. As the star of the show, Kelly Ripa certainly deserved to know that she might lose her co-host, and it was foolish of the show’s executives to think that she wouldn’t find out. If we want our employees to be transparent with us, then we need to be transparent with them. That being said, not every business detail needs to be broadcast to every employee and the world.
Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Brickell Motors
Business themes like transparency, communication, and collaboration can be easy to tout, yet difficult to execute. I believe that honesty and clarity are crucial elements for a business, especially from the top down. An “open door policy” may sound trite, yet I believe in its effectiveness to maintain a happy and engaged staff. I do not believe transparency can be harmful; in fact, I believe it only furthers the strength of an organization.
Steve Perricone, president and owner, Perricone’s Restaurant
Having a relationship of respect and trust is essential between employees and employers and goes both ways. The whole team needs to be dedicated to make the organization better and to assure that it advances. Awkward situations can arise, and sometimes discretion is necessary, which does not mean that it is okay to fail to consider someone’s dignity. With real trust and respect these decisions will be understood by all involved even if the exact way in which the circumstances unfold are not conventional.
Craig Robins, president and CEO, Dacra
Communication up and down the corporate ladder is challenging and timing always matters. If Kelly is unhappy and wants to have me as a co-host for a day to help her communicate this fact, I am happy to oblige. Most importantly, the world hasn’t been the same since Regis left.
David Samson, president, Miami Marlins
At FPL, we value transparency with employees because it ensures that there is trust with leadership. Myself and other senior executives routinely meet with small groups of employees across the company and have open discussions and answer questions on virtually any topic. We also hold all-employee town halls to ensure that employees know and understand our strategic objectives.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light
My decision-making process involves asking my peers and co-workers for their input on every major decision, and, after I’ve heard from every possible perspective, I come to my decision. This collaborative process builds a culture of transparency at Miami Waterkeeper, while simultaneously encouraging my colleagues to participate. That said, absolute transparency, though a laudable goal, is not the best strategy for every situation. As an example, much of our work involves legal advocacy, which, for a variety of legal and strategic reasons, requires confidentiality. In short, institutional transparency is important to me and to my organization, but I fully recognize that there are times when it must yield to broader interests.
Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper