Most people would agree that healthy, successful organizations practice transparency with their staff. From the top down, each stakeholder is treated with the respect that is inherent when valuable information is shared. This holds true when the news is both good and bad.
The strongest organizations practice this and make it a part of their culture. This is accomplished easily when there is a concerted effort to communicate through formal channels. The organization leaders make an effort to be visible and communicate the message. But what about those times when the information sharing is not planned? This is the time for transparency in the moment.
At a recent meeting, I watched our Deputy Director make a short presentation regarding the Friends Budget allocations. This was a cut and dry, information sharing opportunity. When time came for questions, though, they were off topic and related to far more complex budget, staffing, and collection issues. While she did not come prepared for these questions, she proceeded to answer each question as candidly and thoroughly as possible.
This is what I mean by transparency in the moment. Rather than defer those questions, she took the opportunity to be open and honest about the state of those issues. The net result is a better informed group of managers that have credible information to provide to their staff. No one was left wondering–How bad is it? What is she hiding? Rather, she managed, in that brief moment, to seize the opportinty to build trust and create a sense of belonging.