Chapter 2: Transparency in the Workplace

On a recent car trip with Kerriann, we had the occasion to have a pretty intense1 Editor's note: by "pretty intense" he means Kerriann was screaming...a lot. conversation regarding transparency in working relationships.  In her case, it was about students fulfilling or not fulfilling the requirements of a course she was teaching and the “excuses” that are given.

So, this discussion made me think about the workplace and our obligations as either a supervisor or a subordinate. I can tell you that transparency is high up there on the list of attributes one should model and expect. There are countless experiences we all have where a lack of clarity and understanding led to disillusionment, disappointment, or even anger.  None of those emotions are helpful to anyone, personally or professionally!

If you are a supervisor, then it is incumbent on you to be very clear with both your instructions and expectations. AND you need to be very transparent about the consequences of not meeting those expectations.  Believe it or not, some employees will still come to you and say “I didn’t know” or I didn’t understand.  Even if you give those instructions and expectations in writing.  How you deal with that will cut directly to your professional reputation and how others will react to the decision.  Clarity and transparency of motive for the decision are paramount.

On the other hand, as a subordinate, you have the obligation to make sure you fully understand what is expected of you and that you acknowledge that engaging in what I call “hedgehog” obfuscation tactics2Editor's note: complicated Joe Stout language for lying or stretching the truth will eventually lead to an unhappy work experience.

If you are looking for a job, I hope that you can see the benefits of being upfront and clear about your capabilities, and availability.  I really think that is key.  Employers are looking for people who “show up!”  If you are a sports fan, your favorite team may have a star player, but if they aren’t available and ready, then what good are they to the success of the team.

You cannot be a great employee, be marked for promotion or bonuses if you aren’t there.  Being transparent about your limitations can be just as valuable to getting the right job as all the talents you bring to wherever you are applying.

Your co-workers will figure out pretty quickly too what level of professional transparency you exhibit too.  Don’t fool yourself into thinking nobody is watching.  Everyone is!  Therefore, if there is any takeaway from all of this discussion, it’s this.  If you are ever in one of Kerriann’s classes…..it’s in the syllabus!3Editor's Note: #facts And, please be transparent in your personal and professional life.  In the end, it is so much easier and less stressful for all involved.

Till next time!

Meet the Author
Joe Stout is the former Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. In that capacity, Joe oversaw an operating budget of $55 million and a capital budget of $250 million. He supervised a staff of more than 340 annual employees, over 1,000 summer staff, and the operation of more than 44 parks encompassing over 18,000 acres of parkland. Read more about Joe >