Transparency is the kind of competitive advantage that is the gift that keeps on giving. Access to more information equips companies with valuable insight into how to improve while empowering people to make the best decisions moving forward — including how to attract, hire, and retain the best people.
Pitching With an Open Book
Showing and sharing your work is actually the other half of your job. Think about it like a writer who wants to write a bestseller. Her job doesn’t finish when her book is published but keeps going with efforts to get her words before the eyes of more readers.
When it comes to hiring, the values of your company and how its employees work together become part of the narrative of what you’re selling and therefore, part of what you should be sharing. Consider Seamless, a startup on track to generate more than $100 million in revenue that has attracted a passionate, innovative team. They got there, according to CEO Jonathan Zabusky, by promoting openness and information-sharing “to encourage collaboration, creativity and the exchange of ideas.”
You could even take the exercise of transparency as far as delivering a hiring anti-pitch to your candidates, which is what Amazon’s Jeff Bezos would do in telling prospective hires that it wasn’t an easy place to work: “You can work long, hard, or smart, but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two out of three.”
Why take the approach of being clear about the tougher aspects of working somewhere? The effect is both striking and advantageous. Starting off by giving the whole truth is distinctive in a sea of employers boasting about how their companies are all rainbows and sunshine, and what’s more, it attracts the kind of valuable, committed people who will be intrinsically motivated and accept the challenge to contribute and tackle problems wholeheartedly.
The Attraction of Practicing of Radical Transparency
The successful startup Buffer is growing a reputation as practitioners of “radical transparency,” sharing the widest array of information you’ve probably encountered in the workplace. Broadcasting information like “Back to 10 minutes of daily meditation consistently” is not out of place when team members divulge everything from what they get done every day at work, obstacles and blocks, progress towards self-improvement goals, and how much sleep they’re getting.
Buffer even published a formula used to determine compensation for current and future employees. Because everyone knows the reasons for those determinations up front, that knowledge “has created an incredible bond of trust among the team” and helps selectively attract the kind of people who’ll thrive as individuals and help business prosper.
A Longer View of Hiring
Transparency leads to accountability and recognition for the right reasons — because it breaks down and prevents much of the pretense and posing that clouds both performance and assessment. Shared information makes it much easier to have a handle on what everyone is doing, acknowledge good work, and create a strong culture that aligns with your values — and in doing so, ultimately makes hiring for the long haul easier.
For example, Crashlytics’s Rich Paret starts by recruiting people who are collaborative and autonomous, which makes the management process of ensuring that everyone’s in sync and communicating much more efficient: “I don’t need to be mediating every relationship, I don’t need to be scheduling a meeting to make sure everybody is talking. We use iDoneThis as a tool to encourage the behavior that I want to see and that I’ve hired for.”
While websites like Glassdoor attempt to provide a window into often shuttered workplace views, your company can turn the recruitment process on its head. Given this age of information overload, there is a surprising amount of opacity by employers and management, which can end up appearing untrustworthy and unappealing.
Practicing transparency across all aspects of your business not only cultivates and sustains its health and success but gives it a stamp of distinction when it comes to prospective hires.
Janet Choi (@lethargarian) is the Chief Creative Officer at iDoneThis, the easiest team performance management tool around. She writes about productivity and the way people work on the iDoneThis blog and newsletter.
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