Chester On Point

The Transparency Advantage: Informed Employees are Engaged Employees

It’s astounding how often it happens…

You’re in a conversation with a sales person, service representative, or an associate of an organization and you ask a question or make a passing comment about something that’s happened within their company — something interesting that made the headlines or the evening news — and they look at you as confused as a Kardashian at a garage sale.  The communication within the company is so badly fractured that employees are the last to find out what’s happening within their own organization.

In today’s workplace, employee ignorance is anything but bliss. Keeping employees in the dark is actually a sure-fire way to disengage your people and create an atmosphere of doubt and mistrust.

Transparency word magnifying glass searching for sincerity, clarity, openness, truth, accuracy, directness, fairness, honesty, believability and forthrightnessThere are three specific types of information that are controlled by management and that have the potential to flow through to employees at any level: What employees need to know, what employees should know, and what employees want to know.

1. What Employees Need to Know

Employees must have some information in order to do their jobs effectively (e.g., job training, safety precautions, mandated company rules and policies, and minimum performance expectations). In many cases, employers are legally bound to disclose this information, but even when they’re not it would be extremely foolish for management to withhold from employees anything that fits in this category.

2. What Employees Should Know

Employees should have a basic working knowledge of the company that employs them. This knowledge includes the company’s history, ownership structure, management hierarchy, basic product/service lines, and major competitors, as well as the company’s mission, goals, core values, and competitive advantages in the marketplace.

In addition, employees should know anything that Wall Street knows about the company, as well as anything that is being reported about the company by the media. Most importantly, this information should be made available to employees before it is released to the general public.

3. What Employees Want to Know

In the employee version of a utopian universe, employees would be privy to everything their CEO knows about their company. Naturally, this is not possible—or even plausible. Nor would it be wise for any company to share all of its information with every employee. But suffice it to say, engaged employees know what’s really happening, not only within their industry, but also regarding all of the developments, changes, and updates that are taking place within their company—especially those that can have any impact at all on their jobs and their future.

(Excerpted from Eric Chester’s new book On Fire At Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People Without Burning Them Out releasing Oct. 20th.) 


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Seth Godin Tackles the Often Misunderstood Term "Ethic"

I subscribe to about a dozen blogs, most of which I skim and others I rarely read.  But I never miss a day without my Seth Godin fix.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending some one-to-one time with Seth and, although I can’t say that we are friends, I can say that he’s a a brilliant thinker and marketing and management sage who has every reason to be arrogant, but isn’t. In fact, he’s a prince of a guy.

Yesterday he wrote a piece on ethics and makes a brilliant point about the difference between business ethics and personal ethics.  As usual, I love his take and couldn’t agree more.

Seth Godin and I at a conference in 2004. I had the pleasure of introducing him to an audience of 1500.

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