Today’s digital world continually brings new challenges for businesses wanting to stay competitive. Those that do increasingly turn to the wide range of technology tools that have been created to help up their game and drive productivity.
Many leaders would argue however, that the answer to future-proofing their business lies not just in optimising productivity among teams, but also in the talent that makes up those teams. In other words, ensuring you retain and attract the right people to help you stay one step ahead of the competition.
While there are many factors that come into play to deliver on that, there is one often overlooked policy that can help boost both productivity and talent acquisition: ensuring there is equality when it comes to access of information.
Why? Most of the talent that organisations are looking to recruit in today’s market are millennials – a demographic which counts transparency as tantamount to its values. “Millennials tend to be uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures and turned off by information silos,” according to research by PwC. “In other words, millennials want a management style and corporate culture that is markedly different from anything that has gone before.”
By creating a culture where there is equality of access, businesses can show their commitment to meeting those needs and provide an engaging workplace for this key group of workers. Creating such a culture however, comes with its own challenges. Here are a few suggestions on how to address those.
Leading by example
As a leader, your employees look to you for business direction, inspiration and best practice. If you want to build teams that understand and are committed to your vision for the company, that are self-motivated, accountable and proud of their work, then you need to lead by example.
That means being transparent yourself – being open about sharing information and being accountable to your teams. By doing that, you build deeper levels of respect and trust, which in turn leads to greater commitment and productivity in your teams. Research from Bain & Company confirms this, revealing that engaged employees are 44 percent more likely to give extra to their companies.
This quest for a more open approach was one of the primary reasons for creating our voice-to-text platform. All our calls and online meetings, including my own, are recorded and automatically transcribed so we have a paper trail of all our conversations, with breakdowns of who said what.
Introducing this transparency has resulted in better alignment. It helps all of us to work towards a common goal, with everyone accountable for collectively achieving that. It is also why, on a wider note, we continue to see such a huge growth in the use of enterprise collaborations tools – a market that is growing at over 10 percent year-on-year and is set to be worth close to $50bn by 2021.
Choosing the right tools
Which tools are right for your business will depend on a number of different things. For example, the size of your team, the kind of information you want to share and the product features that can best support that, as well as the importance you place on data security. What matters is that everyone can use these tools to access information, and is capable of updating tasks and content that is then visible to the rest of the team.
Of course, this openness can be uncomfortable at times, and there is every chance you will meet some internal resistance in bringing about this step-change, especially among those who have something to hide. But if you focus your communication on the benefits of why this transparent approach matters, in my experience employees and leadership teams will soon see how it can benefit all.
The need for mutual respect
However, introducing these changes must be paired with a respect for how individuals like to work. Some people are naturally inclined to be more private or take a more considered approach than others. So, you still need to allow employees to draft any content on their own terms, for example, letting them decide when they are ready to share it or giving them time to refine an idea before they post it for the whole team to see.
If there is one thing personality tests have taught us, it’s that we are all different. This diversity should be embraced and can often be a business’ greatest strength, leading to disruptive ideas and new ways of improving the workplace.
The key to making this new-found transparency work is having trust on both sides. As a leader, you have to trust that employees will use any information they have access to for the right reasons.
On the flip side, you have to win the trust of your employees so they feel comfortable sharing any information, recommendations or ideas openly, without fear of recrimination. Get that right and you are well on your way to answering the needs and expectations demanded by today’s millennial workforce.