One of the many thought leadership topics people are talking about these days is transparency. We’ve come across it a couple of times in the hardwood lumber industry and definitely feel it is worth some attention.
When we speak of transparency we frame the conversation around the themes knowledge sharing, cooperation and information disclosure. In practice, it includes the elimination of hidden agendas, withholding valuable timely information or important relevant details one would need to make decisions. In our thinking the idea of transparency is about reaching a level of information sharing where everyone has the same information on an issue in hopes to make the best possible decision for the business. It takes trust, integrity and collaboration.
In some ways, we view transparency similar to business leader Robert Craven. In his article “Let's Be Real: Why Transparency in Business Should Be the Norm”, he writes, “Instead of being scared by transparency, businesses should embrace it as a way to improve service and increase customer loyalty.” He goes on to list four ways to improve your transparency which includes be personally transparent, be internally transparent, be transparent with your objectives, and be bold.
In today’s highly connected, constantly online world, information is readily available and only a click away. Customers, prospects, suppliers, employees and others are only seconds away from more information and more knowledge. And because if this, we feel it is that more important for business leaders to be transparent.
If you are thinking about being more transparent here are a few suggestions we have found valuable.
- Remember transparency attracts. Sharing more of the “what/how/why” of business operations builds confidence in its leadership. This is often a key factor when people are deciding whether or not to start (or continue) doing business or working with you.
- Actively share information. With digital communication methods and social media networks, business leaders have the opportunity to practice transparency for themselves. Email newsletter articles, blog posts and even professional communities such as LinkedIn offer ideal venues to regularly communicate to your various audiences. By actively participating and communicating in outlets such as these you can provide people insights in your perspectives, approaches, values and points of differentiation as to why they should have a business relationship with you.
- Build a culture of transparency. Just like clients and suppliers, your employees are key stakeholders in the business. To be genuinely transparent, look for opportunities to divulge more information about both your company’s achievements and setbacks. Employees understand that it’s not appropriate to share everything about finances or other sensitive, proprietary data—but they also know when a company’s leadership falls back on vague generalities or other excuses for not detailing how and why decisions get made.
- Consider transparency to increase trust. It’s a simple enough principle: Lacking a relationship built on trust and openness, clients, suppliers and employees alike are left wondering about a company’s operations and ways of doing business. But with transparency, different stakeholders can better evaluate how well a company is performing and be more inclined to trust in their decisions and actions. As a general rule, openness generates a greater willingness to follow and execute than an atmosphere of secrecy or the selective release of information.
We know that in the hardwood lumber business relationships count. We have found relationships build on transparency increase trust. When we take a transparent approach on our future hardwood lumber supply, our sawmill situation, our forecast for hardwood pricing or something else we believe it helps build stronger relationships. Perhaps you will find the same.
What do you think? We look forward to hearing from you.