My family knows I’m obsessed with the idea of large glass picture windows giving an unobstructed view to a natural back yard.
Most of the time, that dream seems ideal.
But after the sun goes down, that complete transparency is no longer the best thing.
❌ Other people can see into the house, introducing a personal privacy risk.
❌ The light in the house isn’t reflected back in, making the inside room dark.
Ideally, I’d love a large glass picture window that turns opaque white at night.
In the same way, an ideal manager will usually be transparent.
✅ Goals and objectives should be as clear as possible, including how the team’s work affects the goals of peer teams and the organization as a whole
✅ The team should generally know about upcoming decisions, changes, and challenges that will likely affect them and their work. (There are exceptions.)
✅ Team members should receive honest and timely feedback. As Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind; unclear is unkind.” They shouldn’t be surprised by their numeric rating at an annual or semi-annual review.
But an ideal manager will also know when to become a shield.
❌ A respectful and inclusive work environment often means preserving confidentiality. Sharing a team member’s personal details or struggles can destroy trust.
❌ Certain confidential information may need to be kept from employees to protect them and the company from legal dangers. This can be especially true when the company is publicly traded.
❌ When shared too early, upcoming decisions, changes, and challenges can become an unhelpful and unnecessary distraction.
Conscientious managers will always feel the tension between transparency and shielding. Neither one is always the right answer. Just make the best decision you know how to make, remembering that there’s a time for both, and learn from the results of your decisions.