Why transparent communication builds trust
As Guernsey endures its second lockdown, there has never been a more pertinent time to support our clients with transparent communication. Account Manager, Chloe Chescoe shares her thoughts about transparency and trust.
Building internal trust and engaging external audiences through a robust comms strategy is important to the success of any business, but during more turbulent times it’s absolutely vital.
The key to transparency
In the literal sense, being transparent means being open with nothing to hide. At its most basic level, this means keeping no secrets from staff or colleagues. Of course, there are many instances where confidentiality is needed, but in this context transparency is about sharing essential information in such a way that others can easily read or hear it, and keeping that information updated and current.
Why is trust so essential? We all want to feel safe. When we feel secure, we can give our best, and we can trust each other and get on with the job. When trust is weak, your organisation will falter and suffer. Right now, many companies are battling with a number of different obstacles from remote, online working and physical and mental health support, to keeping business afloat.
Plain and simple, organisations are being asked to step up.
One of the easiest fixes here is clear and transparent communication to build or regain trust. In our experience, when leaders show a more vulnerable and understanding side, connections are created, trust is boosted and employee engagement rockets.
Communication should be honest and real, especially when times are hard, and people should feel empowered to give their feedback.
Exemplary transparency on a global scale
A great example of how transparent communication builds trust is the conduct of the new White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki. She recently delivered her first press briefing where she promised truth and transparency with her exchanges with the media. She ended up taking questions from almost every reporter, saying she has a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy.” She has pledged to hold daily briefings, and said she understands that there will be disagreements, but she was honest in saying they have a common goal to share accurate information with the American people.
The response on social media was exceptional, with people commenting that Psaki is ‘delightfully sane.’
This is a shining endorsement of how to effectively employ transparency to gain people’s trust – and is a refreshing new direction, particularly given the experiences of the previous four years.
Another example is Airbnb – when Covid-19 decimated the tourism industry at the beginning of 2020, it forced Airbnb to lay off around 25 per cent of its staff. In an attempt to be transparent with the public, co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky wrote a passionate public blog explaining the decision they had made and identifying how everyone was going to move forward – both within the company and for those who had to leave. You can read the blog here.
Deception and reputational damage
At the other end of the scale, education and catering specialist Chartwells provides us with the perfect case study in the irreversibility of reputational damage through public deceit. At a time when many families were struggling to provide basic meals for their children, Chartwells appeared to capitalise on the pandemic by providing meals worth just a fraction of their allocated costs. They might have got away with it were it not for the fact that they had been called into question during the first lockdown and clearly didn’t learn their lesson. A lacklustre, belated apology did little to quell the flames of public anger on social media and the brand will always be associated with poor integrity at a time of national vulnerability.
Remember, reputations are made and broken by how we behave right now. Trust and respect from employees and/or the public are arguably more important than ever in a world where we have spent the good part of a year watching organisations’ every move.
Being transparent in our communication will keep businesses afloat, and if nothing else respected. It’s vital.
If you would like internal communications support or to learn more about our training workshops, please contact the Black Vanilla team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org