As many founder and team leaders would attest, clear communication––coupled with genuine transparency––is key to inspiring employees and, ultimately, growing as a company.
But in a truly collaborative environment that consists of powerful, capable hires, transparency is important for more than just inspiration. It’s critical for giving your people what they need to effectively do their job. If you don’t share data, plans, or concerns with your employees, you’ll hamstring them. Instead, you need to equip your people to make the best possible decisions for their area of responsibility.
But this needs to work the other way around, too; employees themselves need to be transparent about where they’re at in terms of progress, what resources they need to get their job done, and the challenges they’re facing or foresee facing in completing new projects. When that happens, everyone in your company has a chance to thrive.
That said, fostering and sustaining a culture in which this kind of two-way communication and trust exists is difficult, and it gets harder the bigger you grow. It requires you as a company leader to constantly prioritize and reinforce these values.
If this is something you’re struggling with right now, here are some steps we took to improve this at our company, Honey, that might be helpful for you:
1. Hire Someone Who Is Solely Focused on Internal Communication
This is what it looks like to truly prioritize strong internal communication: you have to invest in it.
That’s what we did at Honey, at least. We hired someone to set the cadence of internal discourse, fine-tune the messaging from leadership to ensure we’re conveying things the right way, and to facilitate back-and-forth between teams. Especially as we crossed the 100-employee threshold, we realized this was something we simply weren’t equipped to do on our own––not while also doing the work of COO, CEO, CTO, etc.
The truth is, you have to treat communication as its own department or vertical. That’s because it really is as crucial to your company’s success as your product, or your marketing, or your sales.
If people on your team lack essential understanding around the reasoning behind certain decisions or company direction, or if they don’t have the information they need to do their job––if you or your teammates ever enter meetings surprised by what’s being discussed––you won’t be as efficient as you could be.
Don’t let that happen. Approach communication with careful and purposeful orchestration.
2. Be Honest and Sincere with Your Employees
Of course, you can’t just outsource communication and transparency and hope it improves or sustains. You have to do your part as a company leader.
That means being honest and sincere with your people in your messaging and in your conversations with them.
As we all know, communication hinges upon trust. Your people will only be 100% honest with you regarding their needs and challenges if you are 100% honest with them. They will only care about your company and the integrity of your communicative philosophy if you genuinely seem to care.
That means you should share news and updates across departments. Share updates from the executive suite with your engineers. When you have a potentially exciting conversation with an investor or advisor, tell your people. Engage with them if it’s appropriate to do so