Open and honest managers can improve their workforce

Honesty is an important characteristic in any leader. The ability to be open and candid with stakeholders can have a dramatic impact on the reputation of an organization. As we saw with the Chicago Tylenol murders, Johnson and Johnson's transparency and honest response helped improve the organization's image in the face of a major crisis. But honesty with the public is just one area of concern. Following the same principles internally can impact a manager's relationship with their employees.

An article in Slate suggests businesses could benefit from an open-book management philosophy. This is essentially where managers open the finances and any other sensitive documentation to their workers, so that everyone is on the same page and employees understand fully what their work is leading to. 

There is risk in this practice. Seth Stevenson, the article's author, says doing this can compromise data security, but that good managers will be able to overcome this obstacle if they maintain a positive relationship with their workers.

"Some owners or managers might be reluctant to share numbers with employees," Stevenson writes. "One concern is that workers might leak information to competitors. But if employees have been sufficiently motivated by equity stakes or bonuses that are entwined with company performance, the last thing they'll want to do is harm the company by aiding a rival."

This practice may not be for everyone, and some organizations will likely have to manage their internal transparency closely, but it speaks to the larger issue of open and honest relationships between managers and their subordinates. An executive and senior management search firm can find candidates who will be honest with their employees and help facilitate a more open and productive working environment.