Is it possible to be too transparent?

Some in leadership feel uncomfortable about increasing transparency in their organizations or within their teams. After all, is sharing a responsible thing to do? What about the potential negative ramifications, since we can’t control for the response? Are we putting ourselves at increased risk of… something?

Some large companies have made made headlines by publishing the salaries of each individual role and the bonus eligibility and formulae. Some even publish internally the salaries of individual employees! These companies had their reasons. And their reasons might not be your reasons.

If you are exploring how to increase transparency among your teams because you recognize the benefits, but don’t have a good sense of where “the line” is, find out by asking yourself these questions.

  1. Does it violate any existing HR policy, or does it violate someone’s confidence? If yes, don’t share. If not, consider sharing. If you don’t know, ask.
  2. Is the information being shared crossing lines of hierarchy within the team, or laterally among varied project teams or departments? If so, consider sharing.
  3. Is the information about your own personal experience, or someone else’s? If yours, definitely consider sharing. If it’s someone else’s but you believe it could serve as an excellent case study for others, ask the person if you could share it and under what circumstances. Better yet, ask the person to share with your team directly.

#1 is the biggie. As long as there are no violations with HR or someone’s confidence, err on the side of sharing to realize the benefits of transparency in your teams.

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