Transparency is the disclosure of information to the concerned people and it is synonymous to democracy. To be transparent to the citizens, Bangladesh government has enacted an act called Right to Information 2005. Although transparency is a term most expected to be practiced, it is least practised or ignored in almost every sector. Transparency is the idea of keeping people informed about the happenings in social, political and other organisations. It has a great power to impact the performance of organisations positively.
Researchers in the field of Management, Psychology, and Organisational Science have put emphasis on transparency for better output of the organisations because it reduces ambiguity and establishes trust between the heads of the organisations and their workforce. Not only the good news, but also the bad news of an organisation should be shared with the workforce as all together make a family; and they work to reach the same goal. If they know everything what is happening in and around the organisation, they can take some responsibility as they will feel a kind of ownership. It does not sound good if someone says, “I don’t know what is happening.”Only those who are engrossed in corruption, do not like to clarify things to others; sometimes the heads of a firm try to hide something which brings dishonour for them for the whole life because when they are in power, their colleagues may not say anything in fear of the ACR (Annual Confidential Report) but may become vocal when the boss is no more in power. Therefore, everyone should remember that, the most powerful person today may be totally powerless tomorrow. Power is ever changing; and change is the only constant.
How can all the members of an organisation be informed of what activities are going on and how are they being funded? I know a Principal of a government college who notifies in the college Notice Board how much money is there for the college magazine, how much is for sports, how much is for the cultural program, and so on. The roads and highway contractors or engineers display the information of their project in the signboards. They display some pieces of information such as description of the work, name of the contractor, where the fund is coming from, when the work will be completed, and so on.
If the work is in a small organisation, it can be disclosed in the fortnightly or monthly meetings. This kind of disclosure is very important for the clean image of the organisation chief and to prove that he/she is not a corrupt person. However, research reveals that many heads misperceive the value of transparency and do not like to disclose the monetary matters and although some of them disclose, they do it restrictively. May be they fear to unveil or they may not feel accountable to the staff. This kind of attitude of the organisation’s chief makes their footing weaker as their colleagues start to dislike and dishonour them.
If some colleagues ask about anything happening in the organisations, some heads usually get irritated. They say, “Why are you prodding your nose here? Oil your own machine.” The chiefs should keep in mind that if they invite suggestions from the colleagues, the staff owns the activities, own the organisations. If they are not involved, they just may work for the monthly salary, not for the cause of the nation.
The value of transparency is so high that if the operatives hear about any kinds of loss or any kinds of weaknesses of the organisation, they start working with double zeal. Therefore, transparency is a must in every sphere of life. You can share your weaker financial condition with your family which may minimise their expectations from you reducing your pressure.
Transparency is so powerful that sometimes it works as non-monetary incentives to the junior colleagues; it is a kind of sharing responsibility with others. If an organisation chief is transparent and trust their colleagues, they safeguard the heads in times of trouble; and if the head is not transparent, the staff may say, “I do not know anything, the head knows everything.” And thus, the relationship between the head and the worker becomes delicate.Recent studies reveal that the colleagues become ready to work harder if they receive respect (or love) from the heads; if the heads pay attention to what the junior colleagues want to say; and if they are trusted with any responsibility. It is very dishonourable for a committee formed to perform an activity if the money allotted for the activity is spent by the organisation head. The colleagues may have questions: Why does the head not allow us to spend the money allotted for a particular event? Doesn’t he trust the committee members? Does the chief have an intention to misappropriate money? Therefore, why some organisation chiefs do this even at the cost of their prestige? This kind of behaviour is a great breach of transparency!
If the heads of an organisation want to run their organisation better in a peaceful and productive way, they must be transparent to others. All the misunderstandings originate from lack of transparency. Non-transparency in firms regarding changes in work plans, way of doing things, non-sharing of responsibilities and lack of trust in the ability of the work force contribute to the reduced employee commitment. Let’s show respect to the ‘right to information’ and be transparent for the sake of the organisation, for the sake of democracy.
The writer is an Associate Professor at Teachers’ Training College, Dhaka