Transparency is a critical element in any company, especially at a startup, to help support the scaling of the organization. As a CFO of several startups I have seen and contributed to the power transparency can have on growing organizations.
Values — This is the compass for a company that helps set the course for how it approaches key decisions like hiring, employee development, and strategic planning. Have you thought about how well your company’s values will scale as you grow? Having core values that can stand the test of time from the early days of the company’s inception to a meaningful and important growing organization should be your goal. There are so many business model, market, and execution challenges when you are growing your company, so you can’t spend precious time making material changes to your culture.
People — Transparency is essential from the CEO down through the organization so that employees understand what the expectations are and how success is measured. The benefit of having values that can support the scaling of the company is essential for developing talent within the organization. Establishing clear channels and methods for interacting with the entire organization is table stakes in today’s environment.
Recruiting — Establishing your company’s core values is the bedrock layer that must be firm before you begin to accelerate your hiring. Listing your values prominently across your web and mobile presence is critical to get alignment between the candidates you engage with and the company’s recruiting process. Even throughout the interview process it is important that all employees that interact with candidates embody the company’s values. In today’s environment the perception and feedback that candidates have when interacting with any representative of your company can impact your brand. Make sure you go to great lengths to ensure that the recruiting process is a good experience for all candidates.
Reporting — As stated in one of my earlier articles, reporting is a key area that transparency can be used to help build trust amongst everyone within the company. Does everyone within your organization understand how the company is performing, what metrics are important, and how are you doing when compared with your competition? Sharing this key information, on a regular basis, is the best way to better educate the company and reinforce how actual performance is progressing against short- and long-term goals. You should find that your employees feel more empowered and will actually strive to learn more about your company’s products and overall market opportunity.
Communication – It is important that your company’s approach to communication is very thoughtful and aligned across the board. The best way to buy in to the company’s strategic plan and key milestones is to share the information on a regular basis with the entire company. The feedback generated from this type of consistent dialogue can also help to strengthen alignment across the organization and develop deeper loyalty to the company and the overall mission.
Transparency is more than just a buzzword, though the term has seen over-usage, especially in board meetings and industry events. Saying the word and the successful execution of it can be mutually exclusive, but doesn’t have to be. CFOs can strip away at the superficiality of the verbiage by seeing that transparency makes for good ethical and business sense.