At Salesforce, transparency is a big part of what makes our culture special and our company successful. Transparency breeds trust and trust is fast becoming the #1 business currency – look no further than the Edelman 2016 Trust Barometer to see the growing impact of trust on business. I think most of us can agree we need more of it in our teams (and in our lives). But how do we make that happen?

I joined Salesforce APAC in 2012. We’ve grown three-fold since, and during four short years I’ve seen incredible change - as you’d expect in a fast growing environment. Yet, what’s struck me the most is the unwavering sense of family, or Ohana, throughout that period of growth.

Salesforce defines Ohana as a feeling of family commitment, responsibility and compassion towards each other. We have a CEO who encourages us to prioritise it every day, regardless of our business goals. Ultimately, it’s what makes us Australia’s number one place to work.

I truly believe Ohana, driven by a focus on transparency, is the secret sauce for any company seeking wide-scale success, which is why I’m sharing my six steps to better transparency below.

Transparency and leadership

First let me share with you one of the first acts of transparency I undertook as a regional leader, which was to create an APAC V2MOM – a guiding plan based on our Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures. It’s incredibly important that every role in the organisation is aligned to the company’s regional vision. No matter who we are or what positions we have at Salesforce, we all have a contribution to make and a role to play in our region’s success. And when we understand that contribution, we are able to achieve amazing things together.

Since then, I have developed and acquired a number of additional tips for driving better transparency across the organisation. If you too are looking for ways to increase transparency on your team, you might consider the following.

Six Steps to better transparency

1. Get to know your employees. Take the time to start conversations, share stories, and ask lots of questions. Once you learn what excites your people and what they are passionate about, you inevitably develop a comfort level that makes transparency natural and intuitive.

2. Be inclusive. Be ready to have open conversations. Hold regular one to one meetings and group discussions with employees where they can share their thoughts and views without fear of negative consequence. Establish accessible communication channels where honest conversation can thrive. There are some great business tools out there for this - we use our secure enterprise social network, Chatter.

3. Focus on alignment. As a leader, it’s your job to ensure everyone is aligned and collaborating with each other. Let your team know where the company is headed, its shared vision, and where to go for more information. Make sure each employee knows what he or she needs to do within this vision to meet their team and career goals.

"As an authentic and transparent leader, you need to have the humility to listen to how others perceive you and how your behavior impacts them."

4. Provide clarity. As a manager, you often may receive information before your team does, and you will likely come across topics that are sensitive or confidential. Think about whether sharing information will help your team, and if so, when would be the best time to share it. And, sometimes it’s okay to be transparent by saying, “I can’t share that information with you.” People will respect you far more for your integrity in this case, versus withholding completely.

5. Seek regular feedback. I can’t emphasise enough the importance of this. As an authentic and transparent leader, you need to have the humility to listen to how others perceive you and how your behavior impacts them. Create formal and informal opportunities to gather feedback from your team and stakeholders. Take action on feedback you receive so your employees know they’ve been heard.

6.Be consistent. There are not degrees of transparency: either you’re transparent or you’re not. Transparency isn’t something you can decide to be one day and not the next. No matter how uncomfortable it may sometimes feel, you must be open and honest at all times. Only then will you earn your employees’ trust — and keep it.

If you’d like to learn more about growing a positive business culture, visit our Salesforce Ohana Culture trails in Trailhead. In a series of online training modules comprised of “trails,” users learn about Salesforce, collect badges, and connect with each other. Trailblazers can be anyone who blazes new paths toward success. They are future-focused, empowered, and optimistic – blazing trails across organisations, leading the way toward transforming businesses.

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