5 Ways Leaders and Companies Can Use Transparency to Win

After my Transparency Favors the Strong post, I got several requests to share ways that companies and leaders could win the race to transparency.

Smart leaders realize that hiding relevant information is just not a good idea anymore.

Customers, employees, shareholders, board members, and other stakeholders in your organization are okay with mistakes. They’re not okay with dishonesty or shady practices.

We live in a world dominated by social media, which allows people to share, discuss, and learn about you, your company, it’s products, and the way you do business.

Even if you wanted to, you can’t hide the truth without actually kidnapping, killing people or turning off the internet. Regardless, if you have to hide it, you probably should change business models or jobs.

Here are five ways your company can win the race to transparency:

1) Blog about what you do

Be honest.  Be open.  Be vulnerable.  Share your feelings.  Companies should act like people so that people can relate to them.  No one relates to perfection.

Here are two examples of transparency in action:

Michael D. Harris Jr. at Ardynn PR is writing 365 posts this year while sharing the wins, losses, and ideas coming out of his growing real estate PR firm.  He’s even gone so far as to discuss his own foreclosure crisis.  Here’s one example of his blog posts.

Mike Cox does a daily video blog every business day where he blows the lid off the secretive mortgage industry and it’s pricing.  Since he leads a group of mortgage loan officers, you’d think giving away pricing info would hurt him, right?  Wrong.  He’s building trust and an avid subscriber base that is hungry for honesty and transparency. Check out Rates in Motion.

2) Be transparent on your “About Us” page

Take advantage of the times when people want to learn more about your company. Write something personal, warm, and right to the point of why you’re in business.

People don’t care about stats until they understand your spirit, goals, and direction.

Robert Jones is writing a series of blog posts about successful “About Us” pages and I highly recommend you read some of his stuff.  It’s amazing.  Here’s the first one in the series, and it features 8pmWarrior.com.

Here’s another example of a fairly transparent “About Us” page.

3) Monitor social media platforms

Monitoring what people say about you should be automated.

The first thing you should do is set up Google Alerts for your brand, company name, and yourself.  Then, when you notice someone is talking about you, move to step 4 below.

Besides Google Alerts, here are some other monitoring tools I use:

4) Interact on social media platforms

Once you know where you’re being talked about, it’s time to engage.

I highly recommend you follow the lead of the Klout.com team and take a candid approach to responding.  Don’t ignore the obvious.  Answer questions and keep it pleasant.  People will say a lot of dumb things, but it’s your job to engage them in a way that makes friends out of skeptics.

Here’s a case where Joe Fernandez (Klout.com CEO) and Megan Berry (Marketing) are monitored and engaged in an intelligent way on a fairly negative blog post.  Check it this blog post.

Other examples of transparent interaction on social media:

One note on Engagement (more to come in a future post)…don’t automatically reply to anyone for any reason unless you are transparent about the fact that it is automated.  It will kill your ability to truly connect.

5) Admit mistakes and offer to fix them first

This is one of the reasons that transparency favors the strong.

The better you are at doing your job, the less expensive transparency is.  This is why some companies face an almost impossible task.  They can’t sell their flawed services in a transparent way, so they get less sales to improve their flawed services.

It’s a death spiral.

I’ll never forget when Best Buy gave me a $100 gift card when Blu Ray officially beat out HD-DVD and my new player from Best Buy was rendered obsolete.  They didn’t have to do anything.  However, they invested some money and made a friend for life.  It’s always worth it to deal with negative situations proactively.

On the other hand, you probably remember when Apple’s iPhone 4 came out with reception issues because our hands were interfering with the antenna (the death grip problem).  I couldn’t believe that they denied the issue when almost everyone I know said there were issues.  Finally, after a media circus, Apple finally gave us iPhone cases to fix the issue they denied having.  This was my first negative experience with Apple and one that killed the myth that they were somehow superhuman.

Summary

Transparency is the new Quality.  Everyone expects it.  If your industry or company is not usually transparent, you may want to be like Mike Cox or consider trying a different line of work.  If you plan on truly leading people, you must be human.  You must be transparent.

If you believe in yourself, this shouldn’t be a problem.  Transparency favors the strong.

Have a transparent night,

Aaron@Biebert

__________________________
Like my blog? Subscribe to “Thoughts from an 8pm Warrior” via email

Transparency Favors the Strong

Ready or not, the world is getting more transparent.

For people with wrong motives, high prices, or a bad attitude, this could be a very bad thing.  The rest of us should embrace it, even those who love their privacy.

Hear me out.

There was a time when great artists, thinkers, and leaders were stuck in fields of war or the family farm.  How many Leonardo da Vincis have been wasted on the plow or army?

Aaron Biebert in Alaska

For most of history, talented people had no blog, twitter account, or global community to advance their ideas.  There was no internet, media, or bloggers to highlight their brilliance.

Where would the world be if there had been a way to see, share, and embrace the best?

A transparent world gives wings to the brilliant ones and helps them find the pieces needed to create the world’s next great masterpiece.   The rest of us now have a chance to discover and enjoy the best, not just the best connected.

We all benefit in some way.

This is why we need to embrace transparency, not run from it.

Right about now, I can hear the privacy advocates screaming.  I hear their concerns. Yes, we are all human and we make mistakes.  Who wants their dirty laundry out in public?

However, people are becoming more and more comfortable with humanity and all of it’s flaws.  Being “human” is now the hip way to be.  We like transparency when searching for our next great leader, inventor, company, or artist.  It’s the dawn of a new era and we need to embrace it for ourselves.

  • Effective leaders should discuss their reasoning.
  • Amazing artists should share their process.
  • Innovative companies should provide easy access to their prices, people, and profit motives.

The truly remarkable people out there have nothing to hide, and everything to gain. The better you are, the more transparent you should be.

Have a transparent night,

Aaron@Biebert

__________________________
Like this blog? Subscribe to “Thoughts from an 8pm Warrior” via email

Social Media Savvy

(This post is part 3 of a short series on 4 Skills for Healthcare Leaders)

Just like the nurse I mentioned that was tweeting about her boring meeting, your employees and patients are probably tweeting or facebooking about things they don’t like too (or maybe things they do like). 

I would suggest that in order to maximize success as a leader at your facility, you will want to not only listen, but engage your stakeholders in a social way in order to learn more about them and their needs.  Listening to their needs shouldn’t be a new idea, it’s just nowadays when someone is unhappy, 10,000 people hear about it within 5 minutes.

There is no more hiding the bad…or the good!

Don’t believe me?  Check out http://www.SocialMention.com and try searching “Clear Medical Network” or the name of your facility in parentheses. 

Interesting?

The key issue is that your reputation matters for recruiting and retaining hard to find:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Surgeons
  • Therapists
  • Executives
  • and others

In order to operate and flourish in an industry facing these shortages of skilled people, you (not just HR or Marketing) will need to find and engage your future doctors, executives, nurses, patients, and everyone else.  On top of that, you also have marketing to patients as well. 

That is why I believe that having Social Media Savvy will be a key skill.

We’ll see you tomorrow for the third skill topic: Caring.

 

Learn about Social Media:

  1. Guide to Twitter:  http://mashable.com/guidebook/twitter/
  2. Guide to Facebook: http://mashable.com/guidebook/facebook/
  3. Social Media in Healthcare:  http://www.ClearMedicalNetwork.com

_________________________

About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.