By Dave Jackson, Green Mars Founder & CTO
Transparency is Awesome
One thing I love about working at Green Mars is our dedication to transparency. Something I’ve learned both personally and professionally is that complete honesty can be hard. It’s never easy telling someone something they don’t want to hear. When you’re in a partnership with someone, everyone will make the best decisions if they are fully informed, and long-term, this creates trust. Even if there is some short-term pain when you have to let a client know that a task is behind, over budget, or that a design needs re-working, you’ll save both yourself and the client a lot of long-term pain by bringing it up as soon as you can, and being honest about what went awry. Then you can propose a solution and move forward with full clarity on both sides.
It’s Harder Than It Looks
It’s risky to be honest with your employees as well. If you tell your developers you are short on work they can do, they might go look somewhere else; however, if you let them know ahead of time, and you are honest with them about when you think you will have more work for them, they will be likelier to stick around, because transparency fosters trust.
Especially in consulting, delivering both of these kinds of bad news are real and common scenarios. Green Mars considers ourselves in partnership with both our clients and our employees. We want everyone informed, so they can make the decisions that ensure their own success.
The formula for effective transparency is pretty simple:
Company tracking metrics, updated daily — some companies just let you know how many hours they are billing you at the end of the month, but we’ll show our clients the design up front and itemize the time we’ll spend, including scoping, project management, and quality assurance.
Frequent and forthright communication — we don’t sweep anything under the rug; if a project begins to look like it will run over budget or time, we talk to clients immediately with a recommendation on how to move forward.
You can’t be transparent if you don’t know what’s going on or if you’re not willing to make proactive communication the highest priority. It takes a commitment to invest in the right tools and to use them as a part of daily business operations.
One of the key ingredients of transparency is trust among the team — you need your team to keep you informed, especially when things aren’t going well, and that doesn’t come from a tool. It means handling issues together, taking action to make the next time better and easy, and rarely if ever uses punishment or criticism as a management approach.
The Payoff is Worth It
I love that the principals at Green Mars strive to respond to clients and employees within hours, rather than days, whenever they have concerns. Even better — we provide clients with daily updates on project budget, burndown rates, and next expected deliverable date. We give clients direct access via Slack to connect with our principals, designers, and engineers, so that they can develop relationships with our team. We proactively update clients or employees if we have a concern that things might change in the near future. I’ve never before worked for a company that does this.
This is what we have:
And that’s invaluable.