I’m all for full transparency in a company.
It’s not a question of philosophy. Open source, free speech and everything related have nothing to do with it. It’s a question of experience.
Small companies leaders should be open about the state of the company. They should disclose its financial health, strategy, who’s coming, who’s leaving, and what’s generally going on.
Indeed full transparency is scary. For everyone.
I remember my boss coming in the open space and telling us « Guys, if we don’t find a solution, we’ll have to close the doors within 2 months ». I remember I started to worry and thought to find another job, which I did 7 months later. It was even worse for the CEO; was he thinking: « We’re fucked up, I’ve failed, and they’re all going to leave »?
I remember when half of the staff left in 3 months because of management issues. For 3 months, we had someone resigning almost every week, and we knew them the day they gave their resignation letter. From a management point of view, this is scary: in France, when you resign, you have still 1 to 3 months to work for the company. This time is enough to make other employees think about leaving too.
I prefer working for someone who can face the truth than someone who can’t handle it the same way I prefer worry about a danger I know instead of a potential danger I ignore.
I’ve also worked for companies where the management was doing information retention.
Imagine yourself in a company where you are forbidden to tell your colleagues you’re leaving for your remaining 3 months. Imagine a company where you have no information about the strategy, because « you get paid to deliver, not to think » (true story). And finally, imagine working for a company and having no clue about its financial health; not something you should know about.
You can get bits of contradictory information if you spend time with the management. You can leave your ears at the coffee machine hoping for some fresh news. And you could hope your colleagues tell you what they learn, and pray for it to be true.
I call these companies gossip driven companies.
In gossip driven companies, employees don’t focus on their job but on getting the latest news before everyone. True or false. In gossip driven companies, people focus on trading rumors in exchange for – maybe – reliable information.
In gossip driven companies, the lack of openness kills productivity by making too much noise. The noise generates stress. Stress generates poor performances from the employees. And poor performances weight on the companies health.
Gossip driven companies neither need world sized crisis nor competition. Gossip driven companies are already fucked up from the inside.