How much transparency can you handle?

Everybody has this strange desire of experiencing more transparency in the workplace. I believe that’s a human nature calling. After all, during the cave period humans stood inside caves afraid of the unknown, scared of what might be out there. Well, that being said, probably what we want is a safer workplace.

Therefore, the million-dollar question might be, “how to promote a safe and trustworthy workplace environment?”

In the course of my career I experienced firsthand several companies’ culture.

I felt, as an employee, that even when the workplace environment was fun, even when I was mingled with peers and senior developers chasing some common technical dragons, some subjects were taboo.

With the test of time, I learned to be more attentive to the companies’ hiccups promoted by some strange dynamics, or politics.

Thanks to a previous CTO I had, I learned about Servant Leadership (more on that in a later post). It started some strange reactions in my inner self and pushed me into a crusade.

I wanted to feel what it meant to really be concerned about people, not only about their performance, but also about their growth as professionals and as human-beings. After all, that’s the calling for a servant leader.

It is enough to say that my path is a tremendous struggle.

But this crusade showed me that one main ingredient for trust should be transparency (building a trustworthy environment demands a post by it-self).

So, I started a second crusade searching for a company with a crystal-clear transparency culture. And I found it in RUPEAL.

So, let us deep dive in my learnings on transparency.

What is demanded of myself or my colleagues isn’t very clear 

More often than not, responsibilities and job functions are hidden behind some job position tagline. Let the entire company know what it is expected of every and single one of you.

When I was interviewed for the position of “Head of Engineering”, a scorecard was landed to me. It stated what will be demanded for this position. The scorecard was written by the same team whom this guy will be leading.

I felt this was amazing. The entire team was working together in the pursuit of a correct fit for their leadership.

Enough to say that later on, when it was needed to extend our team, our CEO handed me a book called WHO, where I should learn how to design scorecards.

Remember, the entire team had to participate in design the scorecard to fill the team’s need.

“Man, John is so damn lazy. I’m getting tired of failing sprint goals because of him. I’m tired of him. Why he isn’t fired?”

The good old gossip in the water machine. It’s natural that some discomfort erupts inside a team, or even inside an entire organization with the tick of time.

Transparency demands that people should speak to each other. Yeah, not just those nice morning words. If you have something to say, just say it.

So, you are really scared to pop the cork and let your entire discomfort flow. Fear not, remember that a true transparent workplace must be a true safe workplace as well. At RUPEAL each department has at least one technique to enforce that process. In my department, we have at least one team meeting to disclose and solve all those matters, per month. I like to call those meetings, our ranting sessions.

In those sessions no one is allowed to answer back. It usually starts with the entire team, one by one, talking about me and then it goes to the rest of the team. There is a turn of everyone.

Remember, we all are grown-ups, so listen what your peers has to say about your performance and behavior. If they have something to say, probably there is some truth in it. Listen, write it down and go meditate about it afterwards. But never take it personally.

“I don’t know the company’s worth, nor their health, nor how do we make last year”

Unfortunately, there are many companies whom in their yearly kickoff show the wins and losses for the past year and people cannot, ever, believe if those are real. “Do we really just make that much last year? Do we really are losing that much clients?”

Personally, I always try to believe in what is shown to me in those kickoff events.

At RUPEAL we are able to keep track in every single month how many wins and loses we have. And that information is about the entire group, per brand. It is just awesome. I believe that everybody feels that those numbers belong to themselves. And there is no room for naysayers about the truth in it, just go talk with the Financial Department and they will show you at the AT portal.

“Which is the biggest taboo in your organization?”

Allow me to help you on that one – salaries!

Booyah, right in the honey jar!!!

Moreover, I have seen people getting really mad about raises and annual bonuses.

Each organization have to draw a line in this matter, how much transparency can we really handle about this taboo? At RUPEAL the line was drawn this way – Let us be crystal-clear and have a full disclosure.

No more gossip about how big Mary’s Xmas bonus was, nor if the new guy is starting with a higher paycheck than mine.

This is AWESOME!!!

Truth be said, this was the biggest test for me. Previously just my close peers knew how much I earned and that was because I trusted them to keep it secret. (Of course, HR and my bosses knew that as well, but that was part of the politics).

I remember Rui Alves saying by the end of my job interview, “I will not debate this position paycheck. We have a budget that was decided by the Engineering team and each year the entire team decides about the bonuses” and my reaction was let the transparency game begins.

 

I accept that for many this may seem a little to much transparent. But, at least at RUPEAL, this much transparency is working.

I’m really glad to feel inside our organization that:

  • Ownerships is taken place
  • There’s better commitment and engagement
  • Peers expectations are more demanding but doable
  • Personal expectations are more realistic
  • There’s less misunderstandings
  • There’s an open, no barriers communication
  • People is really growing (technically and as a human)
  • There is no room for gossips and naysayers
  • and We Are Having a Hell of a Great Time !!!

 

Disclosure: There is more about transparency than I ever could catch in a single post. But if you want to taste it by yourself, drop me a line, we are recruiting two developers to one of our engineering teams.

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