In the summer of 2018, I took on a second job. I was hired by Benchmarks to do 10 hours of data entry each week. The flexibility and time requirements complimented my primary job. This arrangement worked well until the fall of 2019. At that time, I learned the contract with my primary job, which would expire in a few months, would not be renewed. This meant that I would need full-time employment. I decided to be transparent and let my supervisor at Benchmarks know my situation. I explained that I would love to work full-time with Benchmarks, but if nothing were available then I would need to find employment elsewhere. My supervisor assured me she would investigate employment options, and I began my job search with the hope that it would be a futile endeavor.
In January of 2020, a full-time position opened at Benchmarks. I was thrilled to accept the position, but this new role came with challenges. There was a strong learning curve that became difficult to overcome when my new supervisor took leave soon after my onboarding. Also, I was handed a few short-term data projects on top of my new duties. All of this was in addition to the 10 hours of weekly data entry for which I was hired originally.
I struggled silently for the first few months. To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement – I felt like my desk was overflowing with tasks and I would never complete them all. Eventually I decided to come clean. My previous supervisor temporarily filled in as my “new” supervisor, and I let her know how much I was struggling. She thanked me for my transparency. She told me that she could tell something was wrong and was relieved to learn it was something she could help me with. We discussed the details of my struggles. Together we pinpointed my biggest struggles and brainstormed solutions for them. When we met for routine supervision, we would discuss how these solutions were panning out, making tweaks when necessary. In time, I settled into my new role and began successfully managing all my duties. My supervisor was able to then change her focus from helping me survive in my new role to helping me thrive.
Workplace transparency can be defined as respectful openness and honesty between employees of all levels. It can help reduce job-related stress by creating an environment that allows employees to feel comfortable voicing their concerns without fear of judgement. It can also increase the productivity, success, and satisfaction of an organization’s workers. According to Insight Global, transparency can help employees build relationships based on trust and give employees the confidence to ask for clarification, admit to mistakes, propose new ideas, speak up when they hit a barrier, ask for help when they need it, and even be open about a personal problem that might temporarily affect their work performance.
Employees will feel more comfortable being transparent if their leaders are also transparent. Indeed’s Editorial Team tells us that transparency in company leadership can foster genuine relationships, clear communication, and proper team building, and can increase employee preparedness, and that, “The more transparency there is in the workplace, the more candid conversations there are between employees and company leaders.” When workplace changes occur, Brené Brown teaches through Dare to Lead that “clear is kind” because it diminishes workplace gossip and conspiracy theories.
Deciding to be transparent at work decreased my sense of overwhelm dramatically. Had I chosen to stay silent I might have left the job I had begged for due to the stress it caused me. I recently celebrated five years with Benchmarks and have enjoyed my time thus far with the agency – something I would not be able to say had I not learned the benefits of workplace transparency.
Brown, B. (2018) Dare to Lead. Random House