October 7, 2016

Building a Culture of Transparency and Trust in Corporations

Horror movies trade in darkness and fog because there is something about the unknown that triggers anxiety and distrust. These instincts apply to every aspect of our lives, from Presidential candidates releasing personal information like emails and tax returns, to the company we work for being honest about its finances and performance.

The ability to see through things, to understand each facet of their construction, to turn on the light and know there is no lurking threat—these put us at ease, create trust that we’re in a safe environment, and allow us to be our best selves. In a similar way, a company that is transparent with their employees builds trust by helping employees prepare for good and bad, and to contribute to decisions that affect the company and their lives.

Trust in the workplace leads to higher effort and efficiency. A 2015 article in Entrepreneur magazine describes how trust makes businesses better. According to Entrepreneur, trust: 

  1. Strengthens relationships between management and employees;
  2. Creates alignment between management goals and employee understanding;
  3. Provides solutions to problems that vex companies; and
  4. Improves employee engagement, as everyone has an emotional stake in the company’s success. 

Studies, such as “Employee Trust and Workplace Performance,” published in June 2014, also demonstrate the correlation between workplace trust and employee performance. When employees perceived their job to be stable, their trust in the company was higher. However, changes to work schedules, restricting paid overtime, or changing roles decreased trust and, in turn, degraded performance. The researchers concluded, “Our findings…highlight the importance of employee trust for workplace performance…”

Once per quarter, TCG President Daniel Turner hands out Profit & Loss (P&L) statements to everyone in the company and then discusses the company’s finances line by line. When he’s done, the floor opens for questions. Every TCGer knows the health of the business and, because of this, is more aware of what the future holds and has a more personal stake in TCG’s failures and successes.

Transparency doesn’t start and stop with all-hands meetings—it’s a daily occurrence and flows both ways. Since one of TCG’s core values is to be, “Fair, honest, and open,” TCGers are expected to talk with their managers about things going on within the company. Aside from daily tag-ups, many TCGers hold weekly or bi-weekly meetings with management to discuss projects and other happenings within the company. This culminates in a yearly career review where TCGers discuss how they are progressing toward their career goals and how TCG can support them in doing that. In addition, TCG’s Employee Happiness group meets with every employee twice per year (their birthday and their “un-birthday”) in order to discuss how they feel about their jobs and what TCG can do to make them happier. In this way, TCG has allotted multiple avenues to share and elicit information from employees.

Trust and transparency is about give and take. On the Great Places to Work survey, 98% of employees said that TCG practices “Great Communication” and 99% of employees think that “Management is honest and ethical in its business practices.” These two metrics show why 99% of employees think that TCG is a great workplace and why transparency is so important. Transparency builds trust and morale, gives employees a stake in the daily operations of a company, and turns sunshine on the dark that might otherwise create anxiety.