How to Meet the Expectations of Transparency

Employees crave information, whether it’s about their work, their employer, or how they contribute to the big picture. In these technology-driven times, instant and complete accessibility to information has become the expectation.

As advisors, we are often asked by our clients if they should start sharing more financial information with their employees. The short answer is yes, with education on how to properly do so and at appropriate levels of transparency. One of the most powerful things you can do is arm your people with data to make a greater contribution to the organization, and that includes the financial picture.

Many years back, a partner in our firm created a learning session called “Firm Economics 101”. It did not include our entire set of financial statements or partner compensation, but the session did contain the following:

  • An explanation of how the firm made money
  • The five key financial levers that contributed to net revenue
  • Examples of different approaches to these metrics
  • The firm targets on each lever
  • What team members had the opportunity to impact
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During one session with our administrative team, the most insightful questions arose about how efficiency and workflow contributed to achieving or not achieving the firm standards. Never before had any of the financial metrics been shared with this group, yet in a single afternoon, the team identified opportunities to contribute in a positive way. Most importantly, their affiliation with, engagement in, and trust of the organization grew.

As a leader, regardless of your role, you must consider how you can be more open to meet the expectation of and desire for transparency. Whether it relates to specific organizational or team goals, financial targets, or financial statements, the more information you share that helps people feel aligned with the organization and have a “line of sight” to their maximum contribution, the better.

The answer to how much to share requires case by case examination and judgment and will differ for each company at each level. The most important thing to consider up front is what you are currently doing to meet the need for information and achieve the benefits of delivering transparency.