Hire developers Community Blog Find a dev job Log in
Close menu
Tech insights: 3 easy strategies to foster transparency in a team
Less noise, more data. Get the biggest data report on software developer careers in South Africa.

3 easy strategies to foster transparency in a team

19 July 2023, by Lorenzo Racchetti

Leaders have a profound influence on people and their work, which is why it’s so essential to foster a sense of transparency that builds trust, empathy and symmetry of information. All of these things are crucial to a team’s morale. As a leader, here’s how I learnt to create a transparent environment by cultivating friendly relationships, getting to know my colleagues, and establishing trust.

OfferZen_3-easy-strategies-to-foster-transparency-in-a-team_inner-article

A lack of transparency leads to distrust and low morale

In a previous role as a team leader, I encountered instances where deliberate exclusion and a lack of transparency hindered progress. It became evident that certain individuals were intentionally kept out of the information loop, and the company failed to provide full transparency to me and the rest of the team.

It appeared that the lack of transparency was driven by the belief that ignorance would avoid complications. Perhaps excluding people from the information loop would make managing tasks less challenging as there would be less opposition to ideas and fewer questions. However, this strategy resulted in an atmosphere of vigilance and frustration among team members, who were well aware of the information gaps. The absence of explanations had a detrimental impact on team morale and hindered effective collaboration. Team members hesitated to openly discuss their progress or seek assistance with technical challenges.

In contrast to this, I believe that when individuals have access to information, it empowers them to:

  • think critically,
  • pose meaningful questions, and
  • identify their own needs.

And so, driven by a need to improve the situation, I proactively sought answers. I scheduled meetings with our director to delve into the internal information flow, aiming to uncover the reasons behind the lack of transparency. Additionally, I actively engaged with team members during calls to understand their perspectives and gather valuable insights.

Armed with a comprehensive understanding of the situation, I developed a set of strategies and skills to overcome these challenges.

How I foster transparency to build a better team

As a people leader, my focus became about creating an environment of trust, empathy, and equal access to information. In the subsequent sections, I elaborate on the specific actions I now take to foster transparency, build connections, and empower my team.

Build genuine connections to improve communication

Effective communication hinges on truly knowing the individuals we interact with. During collaborative endeavours like pair programming and kick-off meetings, I actively seek feedback not only on work-related matters but also on personal hobbies and interests. In my experience, displaying genuine interest enables a deeper connection and makes individuals feel valued. Moreover, as a manager, it provides invaluable insights into my team’s motivations and well-being.

By cultivating an environment where personal lives can be openly shared, a sense of camaraderie and belonging also begins to flourish. This fosters an atmosphere of trust and empathy, encouraging the free flow of information without any sense of secrecy or vigilance.

To initiate this process of getting to know one another, I strive to create natural and informal interactions, steering away from rigid structures like strict 1:1 meetings. By asking simple yet meaningful questions during these interactions, we unlock conversations and uncover common ground.

For instance, discussing preferences between coffee and tea often leads to vibrant discussions about different flavours or brewing techniques. As a self-proclaimed member of the green tea team, I have found joy in discovering shared interests and forging connections.

Building relationships and getting to know my colleagues also led to personal growth beyond technical topics. I immersed myself in non-technical areas like culture, music, and more. Exploring subjects like tea, memes, and music broadened my horizons and nurtured both professional and personal development.

Support colleagues to improve trust

Once you establish connections with your colleagues, you build a deeper understanding of their strengths, interests, and perspectives. You can understand when they’re at their most productive, which tasks they are the most proficient at and enjoy the most, or when they are not operating at their best.

This insight allows me, as their manager, to anticipate their reactions and feelings toward various situations, projects, or activities - giving me an opportunity to respond appropriately and support them. I am then able to work together with them to find solutions to their struggles.

For instance, I encountered a colleague who struggled with their tasks due to a fear of asking questions, which they perceived as a sign of incompetence. This fear created additional difficulties and eroded their confidence.

To address this, I would:

  • Proactively organise additional meetings with the colleague or team to focus on any unclear aspects of a task or project.
  • Ask questions during team discussions to all team members to demonstrate that everyone can face challenges in understanding concepts.
  • Encourage all team members to ask questions about their tasks and to feel comfortable talking about other aspects of work.

By working in such a way with this colleague to overcome this issue, they became more confident to ask questions and propose different approaches.

Through this supportive approach, I am able to create an environment with more trust, open communication and collaboration. I’ve seen this not only enhance productivity and problem-solving but also promote a sense of mutual respect within the team.

Be open and honest to build autonomy and improve decision-making

I believe transparency is vital in the workplace and with colleagues as it fosters trust, empathy, and autonomy while ensuring a symmetrical flow of information.

Being transparent doesn’t mean simply stating things without careful consideration - this could lead to confusion, misunderstanding, and erode trust. For instance, giving too much unfiltered information could distract the team from the main objective. Rather, transparency means providing contextual information that helps everyone understand the bigger picture.

By being open and honest, I can share my thoughts and decisions and invite others to contribute their perspectives. This transparency allows colleagues to gain a clear understanding of the direction of our work, empowering them to make autonomous decisions with confidence.

For example, as a leader, I faced a challenging situation where a team member expressed dissatisfaction and resistance to the proposed approaches. To address this, I embraced transparency:

We engaged in discussions with the whole team, where every step of our work and the proposed approaches were thoroughly explored, ensuring clarity and enabling better decision-making. This empowered team members to contribute their insights, raise concerns, and propose alternative solutions in alignment with our shared vision. Over time, the atmosphere improved, and the team member in question became more content and confident in our new approach.

In order to further enhance transparency within the team, I employ certain strategies, including:

  • regular team meetings,
  • an open-door policy, and
  • prompt addressing of concerns.

This promotes a culture of trust, collaboration, and effective decision-making, empowering individuals to make informed decisions in line with our overall direction.

Conclusion

My experiences leading teams have shown me the significance of trust, empathy, and symmetry of information in fostering a healthier work environment. By investing time in getting to know team members personally and understanding their strengths, I’ve cultivated camaraderie and facilitated more effective communication. Transparency has enabled better decision-making, as well as improved collaboration and team dynamics.

I have endeavoured to lead by example, striving to embody the qualities I appreciated in previous leaders and aspiring to be the kind of leader I wished to have in my own experiences.

While I don’t claim that this is the definitive way to lead people, the feedback I have received from colleagues over the years suggests that it is a step in the right direction. Based on these experiences and the valuable feedback received, I firmly believe that this ongoing journey of transparent leadership aims to create a positive and inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued and informed.


Lorenzo Racchetti is a seasoned Software Engineer with a passion for backend and continuous growth. With more than 10 years of experience in software development, he has focused on best practices, continuous learning, and leading. Known for proactivity, technical skills, support, and positivity, Lorenzo approaches work with infectious enthusiasm and an open-minded mindset. He believes in spreading positivity and laughter while making a difference. When not immersed in computer science, he can be found in the garden, in front of a pizza oven, or at the gym.

Read more

OfferZen_Want-to-Step-Up-Your-Writing-Game_Source-Banner

Your next developer job is waiting for you
On OfferZen, companies reach out to you with upfront role, tech stack, and salary info.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Subscribe to our blog

Don’t miss out on cool content. Every week we add new content to our blog, subscribe now.

By subscribing you consent to receive OfferZen’s newsletter and agree to our Privacy Policy and use of cookies.