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Transparency in your team

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Transparency. Crystal Clear. See for miles.

In the context of business relationships, however, it boils down to a rather simple definition: don’t lie or be deceitful

During the debt crisis, the American public has become quite familiar with not only being referred to as a collective group instead of individuals (Heard too much of what “THE American people” think, yet?) but also, from Congress and the President Barack Obama, that promised us “More transparency” we are now seeing a new wave of closed-door, private airplane, “we-don’t-talk-about-it-later” meetings where undisclosed decisions get made. If this process is annoying to you as an American, imagine what it can do to your team as a project manager.

For leaders on any team, honesty really is the best policy. When you build transparency into your team, you are fostering open discussions about what the goal is for the team at large, what the ideas are for getting there, and how the team as a whole will be reaching these goals. Whether the decisions you make are great ones, or lousy ones, owning up to the choices that get made and taking the responsibility for leading the team, is just part of job.

Here are just a few tips on how you can bring more transparency to your team:

- When a client asks a question and you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t know, but I will be glad to find out for you. Is email the best contact, or would you like a phone call? I can get you an answer about that by tomorrow.” (or insert whatever time frame you need). Show your client that even though you may not have all the answers, you are passionate about finding the right solutions. Volunteering to do the leg work on getting a solution is just as effective as being able to rattle it off immediately.

- When your team makes a choice and the outcome is disastrous, don’t try to cover it up. Own up to what happened, explain to your client and to your team why the disaster occurred, clean up whatever mess you make. For your team disasters can be handled very well by not playing a large back-and-forth blame game, but by instead taking the opportunity to repair and grow as a team. Even if disasters are caused by individuals on the team, you as a leader were the one in charge of their behavior so you as a Project Manager cannot pass the buck.

-If there’s a problem, take suggestions for solutions. Vote on the most popular option, and go with that one. As a leader if you know something that makes one particular solution more appealing than something else, share it. Sharing information not only makes everyone feel involved, but also fosters accountability.

Whatever changes you implement on your team, remember that change starts with leadership and you cannot pass the buck.