Authenticity & Transparency in the Workplace

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Transparency in the Workplace

One of the easiest ways to improve employee and client satisfaction is by promoting transparency. I define transparency as open and honest communication with all of your stakeholders – your employees, your clients, your partners and your neighbors. Transparency is acting authentically with the goal of achieving the best result for all. The definition makes it sound easy, but true transparency may be a little uncomfortable at times. Just know that the benefits are always worth a few uncomfortable moments.

The biggest benefit of transparency in the workplace is that it reduces fear and increases trust. In the absence of information, each person will interpret a situation differently. We know that often the interpretation will include scenarios far worse than any that may actually be happening. Why create that unnecessary instability? Do yourself, your employees, and your clients a favor – be transparent. According to a recent TinyPulse study, Transparency is the #1 factor that drives employee happiness.

So how do you create a transparent environment?

1. Speak from your heart. Be human. Put away the scripts and the corporate talk. This is how you will truly connect with people. If you have a client that is struggling to set the goals you’ve established, let them know how much you care. Share your own struggles.

2. Seek feedback. Create a feedback mechanism that allows people to answer authentically. Be prepared – some feedback you may not want to hear, but you need to hear it. If you want to be great, you will have to have thick skin. Survey tools like TINYpulse and Survey Monkey allow you to send lightweight, anonymous surveys that can be managed very easily. These tools are helpful because your people will appreciate having an anonymous platform to voice their feelings.

Employee FeedbackThis also provides a valuable opportunity to show employees how much you value not only their work, but also their suggestions. But remember, if you are asking for feedback, make sure you are prepared to do something about it. Nothing will deflate someone more than when they put themselves out there and offer real feedback or suggestions but see no follow-up action being taken.

3. Share everything you can. Every Monday at noon, we rally as a company to share the happenings of the week. At the end of each month, we share our financial results. Every employee knows exactly how we are performing as a company – the good and the bad.

My rule is that no question is off limits. For every question, I promise to provide one of three answers:

  1. I’ll either tell you the honest answer, or
  2. I’ll tell you I don’t know the answer, but I will find out, or
  3. I’ll tell you that I can’t tell you the answer and why I can’t tell you the answer.

4. Make time to connect with your team and your clients. Get out from behind your desk. Get out of your office, and spend time with the people that matter most to you.

5. Set clear goals and expectations. This goes throughout the organization. My personal goals are commitments I make to the business. Every leader in our company creates and shares their commitments with the business each quarter. Then at the end of the quarter, each of us shares an objective assessment of how we performed on those commitments. This transparency flows all the way through our organization. Every team member knows the goals of the company and how he or she impacts those goals on a daily basis.

The same should go for work with your clients. I was working with my cycling coach a couple of seasons ago, and although I was putting in the effort on the bike, my diet was not good and as a result I was struggling to reach my performance goals. My coach had a very transparent conversation. “It doesn’t matter how much work we do on the bike, if your nutrition does not support our efforts, you will not reach your goals.” This level of transparency is exactly what I needed to hear to take action.

Making an investment in greater transparency does not require money, or even more time. In fact, all of these tips are free. They simply require commitments and openness. Try it. You will love the results.


Check out our latest eBook, Fitness Business Management Time Traps to Avoid. This guide will help you identify which tasks are taking up too much of your time, how to avoid these traps in the future and, most importantly, how creating efficiencies can help you better build relationships with your members.

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Jeff Gardner

Jeff Gardner, Chief Executive Officer
Zen Planner

My name is Jeff Gardner and I’m the CEO of Zen Planner. My greatest satisfaction comes from creating and building great businesses. My passions are fitness, technology and family. I’ve had the opportunity to run businesses as large as $2 billion and as small as $150,000 in revenue. Throughout these experiences I have learned much. Some by taking chances, some by taking advice, and many from making mistakes.

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