Making transparency of decision making a priority.
My career reality is I’ve spent more time with leaders who are great decision-ma
kers than I have with great managers entrusted with carrying out those decisions.
As you might guess, I believe CEOs can sometimes hold back managers from being their very best.
Most great leaders don’t struggle with the primary reason they’ve made it to the top: great leaders are good at making tough, difficult and risky decisions.
I learned this first-hand working directly for Cisco’s former CEO John Chambers over the course of a decade, where I also had the luxury of talking to hundreds of CEOs and country leaders.
It is from these real-world experiences I learned this:
It is decision-making from the top that constrains good managers from being great managers.
That’s because leaders are fantastic at describing “what” a decision is and “why” the decision was made. No one creates a sense of urgency like a CEO.
Where organizations fall short — very short — is in explaining “how” decisions are made.
I started the Transparency Imperative precisely to solve this specific problem: to invent a way to measure how transparent decision-making is — or is not — in any organization through our company reviews.
The reason why this matters is simple: Decisions are what impact people in organizations – either in the way budgets are directed or in the way people are prioritized (or both).
Likely nothing is more important to the careers of people in your organization than how your budgets and people processes apply to them.
Wondering if your leaders and managers are transparent with decision-making? Here are six questions to ask yourself:
- How often have you wondered about the reasoning behind a decision to invest in one project versus another?
- Have you or a colleague ever second-guessed a decision after its been made?
- Are decisions frequently over-turned or seem haphazard to you?
- Has someone shared “insider” information with you about how a decision was made?
- Worse, has anyone at work ever speculated that the logic underlying a particular decision was for someone’s personal gain?
- Even worse, have you experienced colleagues who are actively advocating resistance to a decision?
The power of human speculation is extraordinary. As former GE CEO Jack Welch told me, in the absence of information, people make assumptions and sometimes those assumptions don’t always turn out to be true.
It is impossible to ignore that human beings are intrinsically curious; it is our nature as people to want to understand more about what affects us.
All of this human behavior wastes time in a competitive world that has less and less time to waste. It almost always introduces human factors like frustration and anger that can further reduce motivation and focus.
The imperative of our work — our call to action — is to make decision-making in organizations absolutely crystal clear so people spend less time speculating about them and more time getting work done.
That’s why we trademarked the phrase, “Less Speculation, More ExecutionTM.”
Thus, our mission: Make it possible to measure the transparency of decision-making in any workplace in order to hold organizations, leaders and managers accountable for better engagement with their people and teams.
At its core, the Transparency Imperative is about enabling people and teams to operate at peak productivity, performance and motivation by removing as much “noise in the system”— rumors and gossip, conspiracy theories, even passive-aggressive behaviors — as possible.
Importantly, our company reviews aim to be constructive in order to drive improvement — we don’t want to be a place to complain. We’ve heard from both companies and employees that the world needs a better way to practice transparency in the workplace, not a better way to complain about it.
Which brings us back to managers who are responsible for translating decisions into execution with the people employed by any organization.
The Transparency Imperative lays out “Six Drivers of Transparency” as a roadmap to create a transparent organization and empower good managers to become great managers.
The hope of our work follows this logic: if organizations adopt the six drivers of transparent decision-making, managers will have the necessary tools to engage and inspire their people to great execution without unnecessary noise or speculation.
Employees will be more motivated and productive, as a result. All leaders and managers know motivation leads to discretionary effort; and discretionary effort leads to innovation.
Leaders and organizations may have no other choice to view transparency as a “must have”: millennial employees are flooding the workplace and this “transparent generation” grew up with more information at their fingertips than any previous generation could have ever imagined.
It’s possible millennials will equate job satisfaction and happiness with the degree of transparent decision-making inside an organization — and ignite a revolution in expectations for leaders and managers.
In other words, right now is the time to take action on the inevitable: the best employees will expect organizations to prove their transparency.
We like to dream here at the Transparency Imperative that our company reviews will ignite a global movement to make transparency of decision-making as clear as possible — with the hope of making any workplace a better place for employees.
We cannot thank you enough for contributing to our dream.