How to Manage With Radical Transparency | SMR Group


“Radical transparency” is more than just the new management buzzword. It’s a change in how managers relate to workers. Radical transparency focuses on addressing some of the biggest historical sources of breakdown between managers and their teams, so that work can proceed more effectively.

Here’s what managers need to know about radical transparency and how to bring its benefits into the workplace.

How Can You Manage Radical Transparency?

What is Radical Transparency?

Radical transparency puts everything on the table. In a radical transparency workplace, employees at any level can look up information on nearly any topic, from what their co-workers’ job duties are to how much their boss takes home in every paycheck. Employees can check out the minutes of meetings they aren’t invited to attend and see the latest report dissecting why the company lost a major client.

If this sounds extreme, it is. But companies that have switched to a radical transparency model swear by it. And their metrics back them up: Employees at radically transparent companies tend to be more productive, report higher satisfaction, and come up with new ideas to improve the company’s efforts.

What Benefits Does Radical Transparency Offer?

Radical transparency offers several benefits for both leaders and their teams. These include:

  • Knowing what’s going on. Whose job is it to fill out this paperwork, order these materials, or answer that question? With radical transparency, leaders and staff don’t have to guess or hunt – they can find out at once.
  • Problems are communal property. A problem for one part of the company is open to suggestions and efforts from every other part of the company. Communal effort becomes easier.
  • Teams can focus on the issues. Salaries, roles, and relationships are all hot topics for office gossip, and gossip thrives on what isn’t known. When this information is freely available, gossip dies down, freeing mental space to focus on work.

Radical Transparency for Managers: A Quick-Start Guide

Radical transparency isn’t as easy as giving everyone a master password to the database or holding repeated grievance-airing sessions. Leaders who want to start building transparency can lay a strong foundation by being aware of the major challenges and addressing them.

  • Offer ways for teams to focus. Just because everyone can access all the information doesn’t mean everyone needs to do so. Help teams focus on what they need, secure in the knowledge that they can find information when they want it.
  • Examine work operations. Can your pay structures and other operations stand up to public scrutiny? Clean house before inviting everyone to judge your organization.
  • Avoid excuses. Some managers treat “radical transparency” as a grievance session. Radical transparency isn’t about complaints or confessions. It’s about access to information. Help teams focus on what that transparency can do for them.

How Are You Managing Radical Transparency?

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