How Transparent Should You Be With Your Information?

Businessman divide up the work to his employee, Delegation concept, VECTOR, EPS10

Years ago, I was being interviewed to be CEO of a company by the Chairman. The Chairman previously had been CEO of a well-known public company in my space.

The Chairman told me a story of how he posted the salary information of everyone in the company because there were employees questioning what other employees were making. He proudly told me how it stopped all the fighting.

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Maybe his tactic did solve the infighting problem he had. Nevertheless, I cringed.

I am all in favor off being as transparent as you can be. In fact it’s one of the great advantages you have as a startup CEO.

But sharing everyone’s salary information with the public and with your team? C’mon man.

Salary information is very personal. Many people do not want that information revealed. And, if the idea is to stop infighting, how about treating people fairly?

Fairness solves the issue of employees feeling they are getting screwed about their compensation packages. Remember, some of your employees will talk with each other about what they are making. If you are consistent and fair with your compensation, then you will not have an issue about compensation.

I wouldn’t recommend sharing your financials with the general public either.


The second you put your financials out into the public, you will have people (think customers and potential employees) misinterpret them. It’s hard enough to explain to your team what’s going on financially, so imagine the mistakes people unfamiliar with your business might make.

You’ll be dealing with all sorts of unnecessary stories about your demise. Then you’ll be in damage contro,l and you’ll be wasting serious time.


Instead, share as much as you can with your team.


I would draw the line at giving out salary information. However, I’m all for reviewing the financial information of the company with the team.

The day after every board meeting, we went through the whole board package with the team. And sometimes it wasn’t pretty because we didn’t always meet our plan.

Our team asked us tough questions. And we answered every one of their questions.

I know that sometimes the team didn’t agree with what we were doing. But our transparency worked because we built the trust of our team.

Eventually we would need that trust when we got into a yearlong fight with one of our investors.

For more, read: What Everyone Needs to Know About Effective Communication – A CEO’s Perspective

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