Co-created leadership and horizontal structure: hearing the employee’s voice

Transparency about company practices as a way for promoting co-created leadership


What is Transparency?

The company TINYpulse reports the results of the “Employee Engagement Survey” which anonymously involved a large number of workers. The research involving 40,000 workers in more than 300 companies, has shown that managerial transparency, team building and collaboration among colleagues are the factors most correlated to employee happiness. Some companies think open floor plans, monthly staff meetings, and detailed reports equate to transparency. But these are just logistics: transparency needs to be core to company values. Transparency at work requires both great technology and a company culture centered on openness. More recently theories are less concerned with the central, charismatic individual. Rather they focus on leadership as a collective process where leadership is co-created through dialogue with and between employees, and where employees are empowered to take initiative and contribute to decision making. Partnership between management, employees and trade unions can take many forms, but always requires openness, transparency and two-way communication. At the very least it can be an effective tool for positive industrial relations, minimising conflict and resistance to change.

How to implement an effective program?

Here are few ideas for creating a transparent organization.

  1. Trust employees to make decisions

When important information is accessible, everyone will understand the goals of the company and feel empowered to make better decisions independently. Make sure that high-level priorities are communicated to all team members so everyone understands what they’re working toward.

  1. Don’t keep responsibilities and job functions a secret

We waste a lot of time trying to figure out who’s responsible for what and who to ask for help. Instead of using a complicated org chart, why not employ a simple list of responsibilities so each employee can take ownership of a specific set of tasks? As a result, everyone else on the team will be aware of what everyone else is working on and who they need to ask for guidance, deliverables, and sign-off.

  1. Share results

Don’t just share plans, let employees see what worked and what didn’t. Leaders who speak openly about the state of the company gain trust. While it can be difficult to reveal you had a bad quarter financially, keeping employees in the know every step of the way maintains confidence in your leadership and company. It can be particularly important during periods of high growth or financial struggle.

  1. Know where to draw the line

Transparency isn’t about knowing everyone’s business, it’s about making sure everyone has the information they need to do their jobs effectively. Of course there is such a thing as too much transparency; keep performance reviews, employee salaries, and other sensitive matters private. Every company has a different comfort level, so figure out what works best for you.

  1. Hire the right people

To maintain a transparent culture as your company grows, hire people who are excited about your approach. Communicate your values early in the interview process and make sure they resonate with candidates. The right candidates will be more excited to join your team if they are able to identify with your mission and philosophy, not just your product, or their specific role in the company.

  1. Establish open communication channels

Ensure that everyone in the company knows where to turn when they need information. Modern technologies like Asana break down the barriers of communication, making it easier to share big and small messages and announcements with employees across every department.

Necessary human resources

The most interesting part is that to promote transparency in the workplace, the costs are really low. In fact, there is no need for a particular structure or cutting-edge technologies. Just change the company communication procedures, consider your internal client as the first recipient of communications and get used to sharing with all the activities, projects and results.

Certainly it requires a continuous commitment from the management but the results will reward the efforts. Every work organization should think about what it can do to be more transparent.

Skills that managers & employees need to develop in order to implement the practice

Adopting this practice does not require specific skills, rather values such as trust and open-mindedness that the entrepreneur should have to spread them in the company.

However attitude to communication as well as leadership in terms of “capacity to involve others towards a common goal” are features that could facilitate managers to implement transparency within the company.

Expected impact

Putting workers in the condition to use the information without particular efforts or decoding techniques is useful to increase their satisfaction and, consequently, to improve productivity.

In fact, other studies have shown that companies with the best procedures aimed at transparency of information achieve the objectives more effectively than “opaque” work organizations.

Being transparent produces a virtuous circle that starts from corporate transparency, passes through the happiness of employees, to arrive at a better business capacity.

Example(s) of prior application

Company name: BUFFER

Number of emloyees: 82
Location: 15 COUNTRIES

How the WPI was implemented?

their main core value is being a transparent company, since they’ve found that they were sharing a lot of things which are taboo or at least unusual to be shared publicly for a company. As an example, on their website are public all data about revenues, salaries, equity and pricing  strategies, fundraising…

Results obtained

  1. Transparency breeds trust: they’ve found that transparency is another great way to build trust in a team. If all the information about everything that’s going on is freely available, that helps everyone to feel completely on board with decisions.
  2. Transparency helps with innovation as a company grow: for Buffer, the main exciting consequence of growing from a few founders to a 80+ person team and beyond, is that the innovation and decision making has to become distributed. So they learnt that if you want people to make the same decisions that you would make, but in a more scalable way, you have to give them the same information you have.

Reference (website):

How can I acquire a voucher for implementing workplace innovation practices? ​