what not to share with your employees?

Talks about transparency are all around us. We talk about need for transparency in the government, political parties, public organizations etc. What about transparency in a private company? The question of what to share and what not to share with employees is very tricky indeed.

If you are to follow the status quo of things, it’s pretty simple. Do not share anything with employees. They do not need to know the internal details about the company, be it negative or positive. This mentality is understandable because if you tell the employees good news about company growth, they may have a bargain point in the future; and if you tell them about negative growth; they may leave.

But there has got to be a better way than this. After all, a company is all about its employees. Talented employees (with a determined leader) make great companies. Since employees are an integral part of this equation, they definitely deserve to know more about the company’s internals than before. My rule of the thumb on this matter has been to share everything positive; and filter all the negatives!

To begin with, it would be a good start to share all the positive achievements of the company with the employees. If you just signed a deal with this big customer recently, you should just share that with the employees and perhaps celebrate together in the process. If a deal did not go through, just dial it down a bit and share the overall experience and let them know that there’s always a next time!

The trickiest aspect in the share and not-to-share dilemma would be the financials. Conventionally, one would not share the company’s profits with an employee who just joined in. However, as time goes by and when it’s obvious that a certain employee is not just in for a quick ride; but is betting their career against the success/failure of the company – that particular employee certainly should know more!

On the other hand, sharing income or other personal details about a colleague is certainly not advisable. This may create an unhealthy competition, which eventually is not good for the company. There is a thin line between not sharing and blatant lying. Not sharing is one thing, but telling employees that the company is at a loss when it’s not; just to save a buck or two is despicable behavior.

There are some tech companies advocating 100% transparency in private companies. A tech startup BufferApp, based in California is known to share everything on their blog! This includes the company’s profits and every employee’s salary.  I am not sure if this model works in Nepal, however this does indicate the growing need for transparency in every modern organization.

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