Blog | 03.01.2012

Transparency at work

When selling Sapience, we frequently get asked about whether the product will impact their open work culture. What do people mean when they talk of open work culture? I think two things: transparency and trust. I will discuss transparency in this blog, and trust in my next.

Transparency comes from facts. To seek transparency from the government, there was a movement to get the ‘Right to Information’ (RTI) Act passed. In companies where employees spend bulk of time in front of the PC, two key attributes of their work are effectiveness and engagement with their work. The first is measured through performance metrics (KPIs). Any company introducing KPIs faces initial resistance, but it is becoming accepted as required.

The second relates to engagement. There is no objective way to assess that today. So, whenever an employee is not delivering, the first statement that a manager makes is usually ‘you need to work harder’. The standard response is ‘I spend long hours at work already.’ A similar blame game happens from the customer or senior management when a project team does not deliver on schedule. Judgements about people’s effort, both individual and team, are subjective. It is the manager’s perception of who works hard and who doesn’t. The person who is in office all day, or who is good at marketing his/her efforts, is working hard, whereas someone working regular hours (and maybe at home) probably isn’t.  For managers too, the flexi hours, distributed locations and work from home initiatives, is making it hard to be objective about someone’s effort. Therefore, only the end result matters (not knowing why the end result was unsatisfactory, or whether the end result could have been even better with more and smarter effort).

A related issue is teams being stressed for extended periods, and the manager unable to convince his/her bosses for more staff. This is less likely to happen, if senior management can see the relative workload on teams.

There is no transparency about work hours today. You get it with Sapience. It delivers automated information on average effort on actual work by a team. Though automated, what is work is decide by the employee, which means he or she is taking responsibility of confirming what is work. Only work time data become available to the company, and personal time details stay hidden. You get credit for all of your effort, whether early/late, at home or on weekends.

Transparency leads to the right corrective steps. During a review, if a person or team, has not met goals, either it is because of lack of enough effort, or despite it. Knowing the reality helps both sides agree on remedial steps.