An Employee’s Biggest Asset is their Transparency

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I’ve been contracting to the US Government now for over 10 years now, having picked up my first job as an intern my senior year at the University of Mary Washington.  After working for small and large contracting agencies, and working my way through an MBA, I feel like I am starting to figure out what does and doesn’t work for me.  For me, to get where I want to go – 100% customer fulfillment while managing and maintaining contract growth (lofty and perhaps unreachable goals I know – but aim high right?) – I have found that the best tool I have at my disposal is transparency.  And whether you are a contractor like me, a government worker bee, or you run your own team, I’ll show you had transparency leads to continued employment.

The key to customer fulfillment is to add value. Provide them with a service that either they are unable to provide themselves, or that makes their lives easier so that they can focus on more important tasking.  In my career, I’ve noticed a direct path from transparency to continued employment, and it’s a simple 4-step process.  The path isn’t as difficult as it sounds.  Let me elaborate…

Transparency leads to trust.

Why?  Because it shows you have nothing to hide.  If a customer ever doubts your numbers, he can see where they are coming from.  It’s like showing your Algebra teacher how you got to your answer.  Whether or not the number 5 is correct, if you show your process, your teacher can help with your thought process and show you were you go wrong.  As a client, they have every right to disagree what suggestions that contractors put down.  However, if they know how you got there, you can talk through the strategy and adjust so everyone is on the same page.

Trust leads to leeway

When you have shown someone that you have nothing to hide, then, over time, they begin to trust you to help.  The help is normally on small, direct efforts, at first.  But, overtime, as you prove competency and continue to display transparency, those efforts grow.  Two years ago, I was running a one-man show, establishing and maintaining a Systems Integration Lab (SIL) for a client who today has me leading a team of 9 contractors spread across four organizations.  This effort culminated in me running point on a Demonstration Event, showcasing our work to date, that had over 50 participants both in the room and dialed in. Which is where leeway turns into value…

Leeway leads to value add

Once leeway is earned, you can begin to be truly valuable to your client.  The Demonstration Event is a prime example of how I was able to provide value to my client – who we will call Dave as he has a name.  Instead of leading the forum, Dave trusted me to run the forum in a manner that supports the message he was wanting to promote.  In doing so, he was able to do more important things, such as focus on key stakeholders who were in attendance – which he NEVER would have been able to do if he was worried about setting up presentations, getting everyone’s speaking parts ready, ensuring that the technology was working correctly, etc, etc, and etc.  That is adding value, and adding value is the key to…

Value add leads to continued employment

Whether continued employment means new contracts, or continued employment means good annual reviews and future raises, if you can prove your value, your boss or client will find ways to keep you around.  In the history of employment, nobody willingly lets go of employees who add value.  Some favors may be called in to keep them employed, and they certainly get promoted out of current positions…but informed managers never just let go of valued assets.  If they do, they risk running into a culture issue, which I discussed in my post last week.

So those are the four steps that will lead to you being an irreplaceable employee.  Sound off in the comments about ways that you employ transparency in your work or personal life, or if you need any help or would like suggestions on how you can better employ transparency in your day to day life.  Until next week, GovLoopers…

Steve Palmer is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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Profile Photo Christina Smith

Awesome post, Steve! I really agree with everything you said, and I’m going to continue to strive to be as transparent as I can and be the best “government worker bee” (love that term!) to ensure my continued employment. Thanks for sharing this.

Sheila Mayo-Brown

I love this and I live by your same aspiration. I have found that knowing my transparency is my self upfront there is nothing that can happen but to help me to improve and to learn from what constructive feedback I receive. This is great and I feel the same way even though if you have others who feel this is a threat to their disposition being this way always keeps you in a better position to allow growth on your part and upward mobility.

Profile Photo Steve Palmer

Thanks Sheila – IMO, we need more people like you and me. that’s what so encouraging about the Government’s push for “Open Data” as it is a huge step towards enabling Transparency at an Organizational level. And while there will always be people who feel threatened, I find those folks won’t be nearly as successful or promotable as you can be employing this concept

Transparency Helps Improve Communication and Foster Employee Trust

[…] An Employee’s Biggest Asset Is Their Transparency. GovLoop: “Whether continued employment means new contracts, or continued employment means good annual reviews and future raises, if you can prove your value, your boss or client will find ways to keep you around. In the history of employment, nobody willingly lets go of employees who add value. Some favors may be called in to keep them employed, and they certainly get promoted out of current positions…but informed managers never just let go of valued assets. If they do, they risk running into a culture issue, which I discussed in my post last week. So those are the four steps that will lead to you being an irreplaceable employee. Sound off in the comments about ways that you employ transparency in your work or personal life, or if you need any help or would like suggestions on how you can better employ transparency in your day to day life.” […]