Nov 20, 2018

The Importance of Providing Transparent Feedback as a COO

To be an effective Chief Operating Officer, you want to treat all your staff the same: with the same measure of respectful communication, and clear feedback.

You will often be filling in for the CEO who may be working externally with the company’s board and other stakeholders, and you are the critical internal link with the company’s staff.

If you can develop the habit of providing transparent feedback to employees, you will quickly find out that a lesson you are imparting to one staff member will be heard and acknowledged by others. You are then teaching the team about the best practices you want to see followed in your business. Be willing to share the successes you want to see modeled, and be honest about your failures, too. Your openness will make employees know that you are human, that you can tolerate mistakes as long as everyone learns from them.

Among the benefits of providing clear feedback as a Chief Operating Officer are:

  • Consistent methods of hiring and firing. Everyone is on the same page and knows what qualities are sought in a job candidate. By the same token, if you have to fire someone when you are transparent about it, others will learn a lesson from this experience.
  • Build teamwork. With transparent communication and a clear sense of what is acceptable and what is not in your workplace, you will build a strong unit.
  • Common strategy. Giving employees critical feedback about their strategies, whether in sales, accounting, or in the legal areas, will help your staff understand what the corporate strategy is, and contribute to motivating them.
  • Understanding partnerships. You may be in a service-oriented company where you provide services such as executive search or accounting to a large institution. If you can be clear about the nature of your partnerships, who the key players are, what the partners’ priorities are, you will be communicating critical information to your staff that will help them do their jobs well.

In, writer John Hall quoted Dr. Chris Paliani of Kinext, company that connects bold leaders to the workforce, who says that transparency in relationships “shifts mindsets, helps people understand each other in a new light, and allows people to focus on doing something big instead of worrying about the small stuff.”

Build Trust reported some startling research:

“… a full quarter of employees don’t trust their employer, according to a 2014 American Psychological Association survey of 1,562 U.S. workers. What’s more, the survey also found that only about half believe their employer is open and upfront with them.” writer Andre Lavoie believes: “This lack of trust is likely due to a lack of transparency in the workplace. Transparent leadership is the key to fostering a culture of trust between leaders and their employees. Employees who are kept in the loop and understand their role in the overarching purpose and goals of the company are, understandably, more likely to put their trust in their employer.”

The importance of trust cannot be underestimated. Employees who trust their employers are motivated are willing to go the extra mile and have faith in the actions of their supervisors: knowing that they will reap the rewards for positive results.

If you, as COO, can build a culture of transparency you will find that your employees will not only be more engaged but will work well with their colleagues.

As Lavoie wrote:

“… Harvard Business Review’s 2013 employee engagement survey revealed that 70 percent of those surveyed say they’re most engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates company strategy.”

Other experts state that COO’s who provide transparent feedback to their staff are promoting a culture of democratic information sharing, where goals and practices can be aligned for the maximum positive impact. Many business gurus advocate that leaders should change their organizational structure from one that is hierarchical and centralized to one that is more democratic, and flatter.

Transparency is such a highly valued quality in companies that employees surveyed have named it “the top factor in determining their happiness and satisfaction in the workplace,” reported Robert Craven, CEO of Megafood, in


If you are the COO of a company and want your employees to be more motivated, more engaged, and collaborate efficiently, try providing transparent feedback. Practice the steps outlined above: such as being consistent in hiring and firing, being forthright about your business needs and priorities, and share the corporate strategy.

You will not only find that this leadership will inspire the staff but go a long way towards developing trust and building stronger teams. In the long run, your company will see the results of such positive actions on the bottom line.

Next Steps:

  1. Review our delegation tips for Chief Operating Officers to increase productivity among your team.
  2. Learn why authenticity is so important for the Chief Operating Officer and how to become more authentic.
  3. Fill your open positions faster and with top talent by following the ‘Always be Recruiting’ premise.

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