Have you ever worked at a company where you were often in the dark about what was going on? Maybe the head honchos misled you, saying business was great just a week before dozens of people were laid off. Or maybe it was hard to do your job to your highest potential because the boss wasn’t up front with you about all of the goals.

You probably started to feel disengaged from the organization and your job. Ultimately, you left.


Now you’ve got a business of your own (go you!) and you want to do it better. Fortunately, you have the benefit of having seen from the other side how detrimental it is when business leaders are closed off and secretive.


When companies develop a culture of transparency and trust, employees feel more invested, and the business can thrive. Team members are comfortable coming to leadership with questions, concerns and fresh ideas.


You know you want this great company culture. Now how do you go about creating it? Here are 5 practices to get into right away:


  1. Walk the walk. As a business owner, it’s important that you lead by example. Employees look for you to show them what’s acceptable and expected in the organization. So if you say you want a culture of openness, you need to be transparent with your staff in good times and bad — and all the times in between. Starting with you, your company’s leadership should act with intention and in ways that align with the message you want to send.


  1. Follow through. A huge component of building trust is proving yourself by doing what you say you’re going to do, not just talking about it. This is important for every member of your team. Whether it’s an internal or external commitment, your team members need to follow through on what they say they’re going to do, every time. This way, clients, partners, vendors and team members know your organization can be counted on when it matters most.


  1. Knock down walls. OK, not literally! Instead, take a hard look at your organization’s structure. Are departments siloed off from one another? Is there a lack of clear communication paths between team members? If you answered yes to either question, then your company has a transparency problem that’s likely holding you back. Full transparency and an open-book policy are imperative for maximum growth.


  1. Align behind common goals. The best way to reach goals is to put as much focus and power behind them as possible. Consider this: If your sales team is focused on selling a particular service this quarter, and your marketing campaigns are promoting a different service, neither initiative will be as successful as it could be. Instead, pursue alignment. Clearly communicate goals to your whole team, do so regularly and openly track progress toward reaching them. This will help everyone feel more invested in the goal and more driven to hit the target.


  1. Motivate and reward. Do you know what motivates your employees? If your answer is money, you’re certainly not alone, but you are probably wrong — sorry! For ages, employers expected money to get them the output they wanted from workers. But for most of us — think of what motivates you, for example — it’s about something more. It could be any number of things for your employees, from finding meaning in their work to building relationships to solving problems. Tap into what makes team members tick and reward them for behaviors and outputs that align with company goals.


When you hit each of these targets in your business, you might be surprised by how many personnel challenges and growth hurdles fade away.

Do you want an open, trusting company culture but struggle to create it? Tell us about your challenges in the comments below.