Why should you sit in on a meeting when a useful result can be achieved without intervening? Have you ever thought about whether – in theory – the results could be achieved without you?
Even if you work at a company that’s hierarchical in the extreme, there may be reasons for giving a little more transparency a try. In this case, the boss simply needs to “control” what his subordinates are “doing” from time to time, and by doing so can control a lot more – while investing less time. By the way, this is also a demonstration of how an intranet can be developed culturally in both directions. Internally, we say “tighten the thumbscrews” if collaboration software is used for no other reason than to increase control. This is not recommended. But many roads lead to Rome.
Transparency is Key!
I consider transparency to be absolutely fundamental in establishing trusting working relationships at eye level. It’s also essential for establishing maximum control from a central position. We call what some customers build with our systems “Intranet 1.2.” In other words, a system that lies between pure top-down communication (Intranet 1.0) and a pure collaboration solution (Intranet 2.0). Depending on the current policy situation, more control or more freedom can be built-in. But the common denominator is always that the level of transparency has to increase for it to work.
My workday does actually consist of quite a large degree of control in one way or another. I read a lot on our intranet and in our task management system (Jira) as well. I find out what’s happening with concepts I used to be involved in, or how jobs are developing that I picked up on or even originally thought out. I never sneak or snoop around in other people’s work that I have no understanding of. I find that pretty off-putting. And I never experience colleagues who are completely uninvolved suddenly “emerging from their holes and asking inappropriate questions.”
From time to time, however, it does happen that people who we haven’t “seen” for weeks suddenly pop up in our digital systems out of nowhere sporting concepts and tasks. In 80 percent of the cases, this means contributions the team is happy to accept – such as in the form of tips, suggestions, comments, or simply praise. However, I also see people expressing criticism, reservations, concerns, and sometimes even a veto.
We expect teams to take such feedback into account and process it. I know from our customers that not every corporate culture is capable of dealing with critical feedback openly and appreciatively. In my view, an important organizational foundation is that the remuneration system does not favor politics. Most toxic are individual or operational team targets with a variable compensation element (often referred to as target agreements or bonuses). Variable compensation is good if it’s distributed at the company level and to all employees. At our company, for example, twenty percent of the profits are paid out to our employees.
Individual target agreements, on the other hand, tend to bizarrely flourish in companies and sometimes lead to situations where open criticism is no longer welcome. The reason for this is that changes could lead to targets not being met. How would you feel if your co-workers wanted to perform an experiment where your salary depends on it being executed and completed successfully? And how objectively would you be able to judge the situation?
The consequences of such target agreements have been scientifically proven for decades (also see https://seibert.biz/danarielyonbonuses). And it’s unfortunate that so many companies still rely on this method today, but it’s not my job to change the way they do things. Lars Vollmer also has some comprehensive and pointed thoughts on this subject for you to read.
But be honest with yourself: how do things look in your organization? Are you still being forced to deal with similarly toxic routines? If so, then it actually makes more sense to not take a pure Intranet 2.0 approach, but to go back a few steps.
An intranet is not set in stone so that it can never be changed. Perhaps you can allow more freedom in one area that you control and master. You should also be aware, however, that transparency will not increase by itself if the incentives prevent it. You’ll then have to do a lot more and focus on other use cases in the beginning. I’ll come back to this later and give you a few ideas to help you continue working with success.
Link to this page: https://seibert.biz/intranetbooktransparency