“Transparency is not a democracy:” Understanding the Difference in Changing Organizations

Last week, Rebecca Strong, a staff writer at BostonInno, published the transcript of a conversation about scaling company culture and talent featuring executives from leading Boston innovation companies. In our five part series, we will explore insights from the piece and offer our take on human resources in changing organizations. Today, Nick Hajjar, a technical recruiter, writes on transparency within organizations.


Last week, Hubspot’s Katie Burke spoke about the cultural development within her rapidly growing organization. She reminded everyone that “transparency is not democracy” as leadership understands their vision and communicates across the organization. We all prefer to be ‘in the know’ when it comes to professional policy and decision making; however, our careers benefit when we understand our role in professional decision making.

People often associate ‘transparency’ with political and governmental worlds tying it to democracy.  Most don’t think of private business but, transparency matters more here.  Open communication with your stakeholders builds trust. Stakeholders refer to important groups including customers, investors and employees who impact your bottom line.

Employees, for example:  Most employees want to know their leadership’s vision. Company goals, financial stability and future allow them to rest easy about putting food on the table.  You want to excite workers about your company and inspire a long term commitment.  Transparent organizations retain their employees for long term growth. Employees want to discover the company’s long term plan, their 5 year hope and what they need to do to get there.  Empowered with this information, they evaluate learn to realize their career goals within your business.  Without this information, “70% of employees lack confidence in senior leadership [and] are not engaged with their employer.” 

Within the context of your organization, understand your role in decision making. If you are the CEO of the organization, how do you garner input from your team? Do you welcome them into the process? Do not leave your employees hanging out to dry. Encourage them to remain involved and communicate your intensions step-by-step. If you are an employee, do you know the proper channels to express support or criticize decisions from your leadership team? When you know these resources, you can voice your opinion effectively and contribute to the life of the company. Public rebukes on social media or gossip in the break room divide a company and undermines the progress you and your colleagues want to fight for.

Workers drive business forward. They work hard on the floor day-in and day-out.  Without a false sense of entitlement, engaged employees are happier.  Although transparency is not democracy, honest, human communication company allows everyone to succeed professionally.


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