Transparent Communication Helps Everyone Feel Secure, The MDC Group

Why is trust essential to a company's success?

How Does Transparent Communication Help?

Companies that establish trust and open communication between all the team members succeed in building a strong, forward-thinking company, whereas secretive compartmentalized companies often don’t. The reason stems from the basic human need for trust. We all want to trust everyone we work with, feel secure about our jobs, and be optimistic about the company’s future.

Companies succeed when they support an atmosphere of trust because team members who feel safe concentrate on doing their best and accomplishing personal and company goals. Conversely, when people are nervous about their future and don’t know where a company is headed, they don’t do their best work. Instead, they spend energy worrying and second-guessing everything that happens around them. A company can help employees feel safe by teaching and promoting transparent communication.

What is Transparent Communication?

Let’s define transparent communication and explain how employers can install and support it within the organization. For communication to be transparent and open, information, both good and bad, must be shared up and down the hierarchy and laterally within an organization.

In contrast, the opposite of transparent communication is the old-school approach that limits and filters what gets shared. For example, in communication from team members to management, members might feel afraid to tell supervisors or managers about things that go wrong. According to an article by, “the tendency in this environment is to engage in cover-ups, finger-pointing, and avoidance, resulting in top management’s being unaware and sometimes blindsided.”

In the opposite direction, from the top down, leadership teams might avoid communicating about a company’s plan for change. While some situations require secrecy for security reasons, information that can be shared should be. When company owners and leaders withhold a lot from their employees, sometimes surprising them with big changes, it creates distrust and uncertainty. Less trust and security mean less dedication to company goals.

The SHRM article says that communication from the top must also be open because” If information is controlled and hoarded by top management, the innovation of employees throughout the organization is stifled.” Innovation can only come from employees who dedicate themselves to doing their best work.

Elements of Transparent Communication

Many social scientists and business writers have listed and defined elements of transparent communication. Some commonly included components include:

  • Openly sharing all information that team members need to feel informed and able to complete any task. The information includes everything from when supplies will be available to what deadlines exist and who else is involved in the project.
  • Encouraging honest feedback from everyone in the company. If someone realizes a deadline can’t be met, they can’t be afraid to tell someone. When a person sees that a team member has ordered the wrong thing, the sooner everyone knows, the better the outcome will be. Everyone should also feel good about sharing if they see a better way of accomplishing a goal.
  • Everyone admits to (owns) their mistakes and learns from them. Once errors are made, people shouldn’t waste time and energy trying to escape blame or point fingers. Everyone takes their due credit when things go right, so the reverse should logically be true.
  • Judgment and finger-pointing are replaced with the analysis and solving of the problem. Once a problem is discovered, everyone should work towards fixing it. There may be time for discussing why something went wrong later, but the immediate effort should be to resolve the difficulty.
  • Open discussions and resolution or acceptance of differences of opinion. People are individuals with different knowledge, backgrounds, and experiences. Therefore, disagreements will occur. When everyone feels comfortable expressing their views but understands that sometimes a decision won’t go their way, less time and energy is spent arguing. The expression “agreeing to disagree” should be a valid outcome of any discussion.

According to, the “characteristics of transparent communication include the information that people need in order to understand what is going on at the time that they need it ,to avoids surprises, (and) follow-up for concerns that are raised.”

For team members at The MDC Group, transparent communication includes “telling the whole story and sharing thoughts and perspectives.” The company culture also contains two other concepts helpful to transparency, Carefrontation and Ownership of Situations and Outcomes.

Handling Uncomfortable Communication


Many of the elements discussed above involve handling potentially difficult communications. No one wants to admit they’re wrong or criticize someone else who’s made a mistake. Honesty is the best policy when things go wrong, but people are often afraid to tell it like it is. They may hide all or part of a problem, blame a third party, only tell part of the story, or even lie about what’s happened rather than face telling the truth.

Many companies, including The MDC Group, use a technique called “Carefrontation” to encourage transparent communication. Carefrontation combines confrontation with caring.

While a leader might need to tell a team member they made an error or didn’t deliver what was required, if they do it in a way that shows respect and caring towards the individual, there are fewer hard feelings and less drama. An attitude of- We have a problem. Let’s discuss it, figure out what went wrong, and come up with a solution- works better than saying – You caused a problem and are less valued because of it. Carefrontation means confronting someone with compassion and a caring attitude.

Owning the Situation and Outcome

To foster transparent communication, another valuable part of The MDC Group’s culture concerns ownership. Everyone is encouraged to “own the situation and the outcome; take full responsibility, good or bad.” When everyone takes responsibility for what they do, everyone at one time or another owns a bad result. Everyone also takes credit for good work, so good and bad can balance. When everyone is fallible, no one feels the need to be perfect. Therefore, they communicate freely about something that hasn’t gone as planned rather than trying to hide the situation.

Trust is vital to a company’s success because it’s essential in carefrontation, transparent communication, and owning a situation and outcome. People that believe or trust that these healthy policies will be followed consistently, worry less and concentrate more on working towards attaining goals.


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