How to Build a Transparent Culture for the Millennial Workplace

How to Build a Transparent Culture for the Millennial Workplace

In our last article, we discussed why a transparent culture is key to engaging the millennial workforce. We went over how management honesty and openness boosts job satisfaction, builds trust, improves teamwork, and strengthens problem solving. We also noted how this generation’s needs and expectations differ widely from those of others’.

Given that Generation Y will soon become the largest working cohort in the world, managers must adapt to their needs to maximize their engagement, performance, and loyalty.

The growing need for transparency in the workplace is evident. Yet how can managers develop a transparent culture in their teams? Keep reading to find out – we promise it’s easier than it sounds.

1. Encourage Candid Communication

Millenials want to feel free to share their opinions and suggestions. They need open, authentic discussions in order to remain engaged. Such discussions start by promoting upfront communication with you, and amongst themselves.

  • Clarify Communication’s Importance: Encourage employees of all levels to ask you questions, discuss concerns, and speak their minds. Make it clear that you expect candid communication to be the norm within your team and explain how everyone will benefit from it.
  • Support And Reinforce: Unfortunately classic corporate culture has engraved a fear of communicating with management in many people, especially those who have worked in environments ridden with politics, hierarchies, and strict boundaries. As a result, upfront conversations with management may be nerve-wracking for many. Gently push your employees to surpass these mental boundaries, through supporting and reinforcing communication. Thank, acknowledge, or praise your employees each time they ask you a sensitive question, or voice their opinions. When a topic is difficult or challenging, you need to make sure that your team feels empowered to bring it up for consideration.
  • Walk The Talk: Many managers boast about welcoming employees to take concerns directly to them. Yet oftentimes this is merely talk, where in actuality employees are sent unfriendly signals for asking the sensitive questions they were so encouraged to voice. A transparent culture is only effective when everyone feels comfortable with it.
  • Provide Opportunities: To help your employees feel comfortable speaking their minds, provide them with opportunities to do so. Set up one-on-one check-in meetings where you can privately ask for feedback, or send out surveys and Q&A’s, asking everyone to anonymously submit opinions. However the eventual goal of a transparent culture is to make it candid, not anonymous – and that’s what reinforcement is for :).

2. Factor In Feedback

A huge component of motivation is feeling acknowledged for doing things right. But in order to do things right, people need feedback on which to leverage their efforts.  Millennials want to feel that they’re making a difference and contributing to their organization on a deeper level. So to keep them engaged, you’ll need to give plenty of feedback to empower them.

  • Regular Check Ins: Feedback should be ongoing and 2-way. As we mentioned earlier, set up regular touchpoint meetings to exchange positive and negative feedback with your employees. What works well for us here at Unito, is what we call, “weekly syncs”. Our managers meet with each member of their team each week, to discuss wins, fails, goals, and areas needing improvement. Employees are encouraged to provide feedback or voice concerns about any potential roadblocks to their performance. Such syncs ensure everyone is on the same page, and understand each other’s needs and expectations.
  • Performance Appraisals: Meeting one-on-one to discuss how your employees are doing on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, gives you an opportunity to give feedback on a deeper level. It also lets employees give constructive suggestions for you and your department. Make sure the performance appraisal is a 2-way positive, reinforcing, and developmental conversation. Give the employee an opportunity to voice their opinions on their progress through a self-appraisal, to minimize defensiveness and stimulate engagement in the process.
  • Development Plan: A performance appraisal should be followed by a developmental plan, which outlines clearly defined short and long-term goals, as well as steps employees should take to reach those goals. During this discussion, the manager suggests ways the employee can develop performance, and discusses any areas the employee wants to improve on. The plan should also include any resources the employee will need to improve or maintain their performance. Such resources could include training, coaching, programs, apps, or tools. You can also talk about areas where you agree and disagree, and reach a common ground. Finally, you can examine and agree on any objectives or performance standards for the next period.
  • Get Feedback Training: Anyone can give positive feedback, yet providing honest constructive comments in a way that is encouraging rather than demotivating, is not always easy. Negative feedback is invaluable and should never be avoided, but if done harshly, can spur defensiveness and disengagement. This will shift one’s attention from personal growth to resentment, which is a not a situation that will encourage further transparency. Consider reading up on the topic, taking a feedback seminar, or bringing in an expert who can give you the load down. You’ll not only learn how to give, but also respond positively to feedback addressed at you.

3. Share It All

As Whole Foods Ceo John Mackey explained, “If you’re trying to create a high-trust organization, an organization where people are all-for-one and one-for-all, you can’t have secrets.” A transparent culture involves candidly sharing all types of information between all levels of employees. How much should you be sharing with your team? When it come to engaging millennials, the more the better.

  • Share Objectives And Progress: One things managers must prioritize sharing, is objectives, progress, and roadblocks in reaching milestones. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily details of one’s tasks, so understanding the big picture will help your team members see the value in their own personal roles. Understanding how one’s tasks contribute to the end goal increases intrinsic motivation. The more everyone knows about progress and goals, the more engaged they’ll be.
  • Share Policies and Procedures: A transparent culture is more than just being open, it’s also involves ensuring a sense of fairness. Make policies accessible to all, and ensure everyone understands them. This shows your team that any rules or practices apply to all, without any separate favourable deals for anyone. Likewise, share how performance is rewarded and how promotions are determined. A good idea is to make documents with this information available for your team to view at their discretion. Here at Unito, we like to share it on a shared google drive.
  • Share Financial Information: This approach is discouraged and even forbidden in some companies. However more and more leaders are starting to see that openly sharing salaries leads to higher engagement. Research shows that employees who are informed about salaries “work harder and significantly increase their performance”. Sharing financial information not only builds trust, but gives employees the opportunity to discuss inequalities with management and create positive change in how the pay system is structured. It’s best to share the exact formula used to calculate salaries, explaining how an employee’s role, experience, loyalty, and other factors come into play.
  • Share Decision-Making: One of the best ways to engage millennials, is to let them get involved in shaping their team’s future. Involve them in decision making processes to give them opportunity to voice their opinions, and feel valued. It will also help build a sense of ownership, trust, and ultimately engagement.

An added bonus to the above: office politics can only thrive where there’s an asymmetry of information between people in a company. If you share openly and honestly all areas of what your company is doing, you can say goodbye to the spectre of “office politics”.

4. Use The Right Tools

Today we are lucky enough to be able to choose from a variety of work management tools that help managers create a transparent culture in their teams.

  • Communication Tools: Tools such as Slack, Trello, Asana, Wrike, and Basecamp, and Jira, provide an easy means of sharing information, communication, and exchanging feedback. They use of such tools also encourages your team members to share information amongst themselves, and as publicly as possible. For example, Asana’s progress view feature is an excellent way to keep everyone in the loop, while Wrike’s stream feature lets employees see an overview of any changes that have been made to any project. Such activity tracking features are also a great way to boost accountability and openness.

  • Workflow Syncing Tool: With the help of Unito, you can now sync information like tasks, comments, notifications, and other activity across multiple tools. This gives anyone on your team live updates on any information posted on any other tool used by your team or company.  It also gives you an opportunity to create project roadmaps within or across multiple tools that don’t have built-in roadmap features. Project roadmaps facilitate collaboration, and make all project-related information transparent for employees to view and discuss. If you want to learn how to create one, just ask.

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