CEO Mathilde Collin had been a victim of lies and secrets at previous organizations, so she decided to be transparent with her current staff. Is your CEO a mysterious figure? The staff at email collaboration software provider Front know everything CEO and co-founder Collin does every day because they have access to her calendar.
Collin says that the company made it an organizational policy since inception to be transparent, and everyone from the CEO to the lowest employee operates public calendars.
Transparency became a big deal for Collin because her former employer was economical with the true state of the company. She recalls how the leaders lied to the staff about the health of the business, saying, “They wouldn’t share revenue, or they would say we were doing amazing. I was in sales, and I could see we were not adding much money. It was traumatic when I learned the truth, so I did the opposite.”
Transparency Boosts Productivity
In addition to enabling her staff know what she is doing, Collin says that being transparent increases her productivity. Her calendar, which runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. is scheduled by her assistant weeks in advance, and each day is unique.
She says “I always know what I’m doing, but there’s always flexibility,” adding that, “I’ve been able to tell my assistant, ‘Here is how I want to spend time each week. When I do what doesn’t matter to me.’”
Her calendar covers time to handle email, read, and think. She says that “You have to make sure you’re not spending your entire week doing things, otherwise you never have the freedom to think about spending time on the right things,” They put everything on the calendar to minimize missed opportunities.
By the end of the week, she receives a graph showing how she spent her time. She believes that the first step to becoming better at time management is knowing what’s taking her time.
An instance was when she found that she wasn’t getting involved enough in the recruitment process. She says “It’s always important and never urgent,” adding that. “Now I spend at least 33 percent of my time interviewing or sourcing candidates.”
On the other hand, Collin found that more than half of her time was being spent in one-on-one meetings with direct reports. To increase her efficiency in this aspect, she adds notes in a shared document so that both parties are on the same page before the commencement of the meetings.
Transparency Improves Feedback
Everybody at Front, from the CEO to all the employees use public calendars, and Collin says the policy puts her in a better position to help her staff. She says that “Knowing how other people spend their time is good for coordination, and it allows me to do a better job coaching,” For example, the public calendar helped Collin to find out that the time a new employee spent talking with customers was insufficient.
She says that “If we want to be a good company and have a good product, it’s important to talk to customers,” It wouldn’t have been possible to give the employee that feedback if she didn’t know how he spent his time. She can provide them with advice on how to spend more time on what really matters.
Front’s Transparency Transcends Calendars
While Collin operates a public calendar, employees can drop by to ask questions or chat during specific office hours, further perpetuating the culture of transparency. The company convenes an all-hands meeting every Monday, and staff can submit anonymous questions. Collins says that she answers all the questions.
Every month, Collins gives a presentation to the whole company, telling them how the company is fairing. She says that it’s critical that everyone be on the same page. “Our product is aimed at sharing as much as possible. Inboxes are public, and everyone can see every support request or customer review. People know the good and bad.”
The company’s metrics, including the churn rate to revenue, can be seen on dashboards. Collin adds that candidates learn about the opportunities and challenges of the company during the interview process. She says that the majority of companies only share the opportunities, creating a lose/lose situation.
Transparency Promotes Trust
Collin says that operating a public calendar builds trust within the company. She adds that Glassdoor shows high ratings and retention at Front. For her “Trust is a big reason why people are happy at work. It comes from lots of different things, not just sharing my calendar, but employees always know what I’m doing, and that creates less stress and more engagement.”
A public calendar helps the staff to build a bond with the company. Collin believes her calendar paints a vivid picture of what’s going on company-wide, right from raising capital to product launches. “It provides employees with context about their own role, and it makes them more engaged in day-to-day work,” she adds.