Telcion has four core values and behaviors:
• Selflessness – Team before self.
• Work Ethic – Do whatever it takes to get the job done.
• Transparency – Open and honest communication about everything.
• Curiosity – A willingness to ask “why?” with a desire to learn new things.
These core values have been tested over many years and they embody Telcion’s culture. Let’s talk through the core value of transparency and why it’s important.
What does it mean to be transparent? Wikpedia defines it like this:
“Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in other social contexts, is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability.”
Another way of looking at transparency: not hiding anything. Whether things are good or bad, you openly and honestly convey information as you know it. Your ego is not involved. It doesn’t matter if it makes you look good or not; you have a desire and willingness to put the information you know out on the table.
So what does this look like exactly? Let’s dig into that.
I’ve been telling people for over 20 years that my life is an open book. You can ask me anything and I will give you a straight answer. You may not always like my answer, but I’ll tell it like I see it.
What I have found is that the more transparent I am with the people around me, the more trust builds in our relationship. That trust makes it easier for others to share real information, real insights, as to what is going on in any given situation. And when that happens, better decisions are made.
We all know what it’s like to be in a room with people you don’t trust. If you don’t trust, you aren’t willing to be vulnerable. And if you aren’t willing to be vulnerable, then you aren’t willing to say the things that need to be said for fear of ridicule or judgment. When that’s the case, we have dysfunction on our teams, and that prevents good decisions from being made because the valuable information needed to make good decisions isn’t being shared.
In my company, I tell our people that they will never be fired or judged for being transparent. I want all the information to be presented, and I want it in a timely manner so that our team can make the best decisions about any given situation. Does that mean that sometimes we are fessing up about our own mistakes? Absolutely. But when I see people do that, my trust and respect for them goes way up because these are people who are willing to set their egos aside for the betterment of the company.
From my view, we all make mistakes. It’s going to happen. So I might as well accept that fact and just spill the beans. As a leader I have to be the first one to be transparent, which means I too have to admit my mistakes when they happen. And believe me, they happen more than I’d like. But every time I do this, it builds more trust with the people around me and gives them courage to be transparent too.
When there is no transparency, people aren’t willing to readily share information and aren’t forthcoming. Usually this is done by people who want to maintain some kind of control over their peers or who like the feeling of being the only one who knows certain things. But this is a finite mindset. It’s very limiting. And there is no place for this individual on the Telcion team. We’ve all experienced this—there’s that one person on the team who knows the answer, but either won’t readily share it, or hoards the information so they can feel more important. All this does is hinder the team and keep others from performing at their best.
The interesting thing about being transparent is that it’s not just from a negative perspective, but it also helps from a positive perspective. You have to do it for both though or the trust won’t be built. For example, it’s easy to be transparent when you have good news to share, like when the company is performing well, we are hitting our numbers, reaching our goals, and everyone gets to celebrate. But what if we aren’t hitting the numbers? What if we aren’t accomplishing our goals? What if we performed poorly on a project or lost a deal? Are we still willing to be transparent in order to evaluate, learn, and improve? Trust is built when we are transparent all the time, not just when it’s good news or when it’s convenient.
In addition to being transparent within our companies it’s also extremely important to be transparent externally with our clients. There is nothing better than a client relationship that is based on transparent dialogue. This creates the opportunity for a long-term, trusting relationship. Imagine telling your clients when you’ve made a mistake or when you don’t agree with them. Most of us fear such things, but when do them it actually makes our clients more loyal and less likely to move to another provider. How do you feel when someone is honest and transparent with you? Do you want to run away or do you trust them with more of your business?
At Telcion, we value people who hold transparency high in their personal value system. People who have a desire to share what they know, are willing to be vulnerable, are willing to speak their minds, and have a genuine desire to help others learn from what they know. They don’t keep information and ideas to themselves. Instead, they care more about getting the right information out than making themselves look good, and they don’t care who was at fault, only that we learn from our mistakes. As a leader, it’s my job to make sure that we have a healthy environment where this can take place without any fear of retribution. We often share and celebrate when we see this value being exhibited by anyone on our team.
Telcion is filled with team members who exhibit transparency, and it’s what makes our company culture great.
If you want to learn more about how to be transparent I would highly recommend two books: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Getting Naked, both by Patrick Lencioni. The first is focused on transparency within your company, and the latter is focused on transparency with your clients.
[This article was contributed by Lance Reid, Telcion's CEO.]