...it's a spectrum

Should you be see-through?

Did you hear about that two year study Google did some time back? 🤓

They focused on high-performing teams and what makes them work. After a lot of research and interviews, they discovered one factor matters more than any other.

That factor? 🤔

Psychological safety.

Team members had to feel safe taking risks and being vulnerable with each other. When they did, their team did extraordinary work. 💫

This is one of many reasons we focus on transparency at Krit. Done well, transparency provides clarity, context, and trust. 👏

But here’s something a ton of people don’t realize: Transparency is a spectrum, and you can land a lot of different places on it.  

It’s not an either/or kind of thing 👀

A lot of entrepreneurs ask, “well, how do you be transparent?” But that’s not the right question to start with. A better starting point is, “To what extent do you want to be transparent?”

The first thing you need to recognize is transparency isn’t an either/or thing.

This comp transparency spectrum from bethanye McKinney Blount and First Round Review is a good illustration.  

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But transparency doesn’t just apply to pay information (though that’s a big piece!). It applies to all kinds of information in your startup. 📣

Things like:

  • How and who you hire

  • How you determine raises and promotions

  • How much money the company is making

  • What you’re doing with profits

  • The emotional, mental, and physical health of founders

  • Why someone left/why you fired someone

Some, or all, of that may be helpful to share. But it depends on your company. 💬

The information transparency spectrum 📍

If you asked us to draw a transparency spectrum on the back of a (purple) napkin, it’d look something like this.

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We’re pretty far to the right, but that’s because that level of transparency aligns with our goals, culture, and how much autonomy we want employees to have. 🎯

That doesn’t mean you should be just as transparent, though.  

As Claire Lew put it, “Transparency is a spectrum, and if you indiscriminately just make everything 100 percent public, you could be wasting people’s time, confusing them, or causing them strife.” 😓

Figuring out where YOU want to land 🙌

Why do you want to be transparent?

Being transparent just because it’s trendy is a terrible idea. 😑Transparency isn’t an end, it’s a means. It’s a powerfully good thing, but it can also totally backfire if you don’t manage it well.

Make sure you know why--and make sure your employees know why--you want to be transparent before you open up information. This’ll help clear up questions around what information you don’t share, as well.

What kind of culture do you want to create?

Do you want your culture to emphasize honesty, radical candor, or open information sharing? You’ll want to be further to the right then. 📌

How much autonomy do employees need?

If your first hires need to make a lot of independent decisions, then they also need a lot of information and context. Otherwise, you’re giving them responsibility without authority...and that’s a crappy recipe for anxiety. 😨

What can you maintain?  

This is twofold: what example can you set and what pace of sharing can you maintain?

You’re going to set the tone for the team, so don’t aim for a level of transparency you can’t consistently model. 💪

Second, you have to provide ongoing context for the information you share. Employees need to see more than a spreadsheet--they need to see your reasoning and strategy, too. As First Round Review cautions, “sharing raw numbers alone could do more harm than good.” Make sure you have the time, energy, and commitment to fill the gaps. 🏃

Start small, assess often 📈

If you’re not sure where to start, start small. You can always choose to share more information as you go!

So where do you want to fall on the spectrum?

Reply to this email and let us know. Where on the spectrum are you now and where do you want to be? What step can you take to be more (or less) transparent?

If you have any questions send us those too, we love talking about building companies!




“The key thing people forget in transparency is it’s not about opening up the Google Drive and making sure that everyone can read everything.”

Des Traynor, Co-founder at Intercom