When I was in the 6th grade I got caught gossiping about a classmate. I can’t remember exactly what I had said about them, but they caught wind and my teacher spoke with me about it after school. I remember my teacher telling me, “Don’t say something about another person unless you’d be willing to say it to their face.”

It was an idea that made me nervous. I was saying things all the time about people that I wouldn’t say to their face. That lesson taught me to be more constructive in how I spoke about people. I knew I could still say things that were truthful, but if it didn’t add value, then it wasn’t worth stating. I also learned the power of transparent communication. That lesson is one of the many reasons I love the open door policy we have at Gravity Payments.

For a long time, I worked in large corporations with open door policies, and it was always figurative and hollow in meaning. They encouraged honesty, but it was often met with a sit-down with HR. When I came to Gravity, I learned the true value of an open door policy.

At Gravity everyone’s voice is valued and heard. We listen to all ideas and vet them. Part of our commitment to transparency is a driving force for not closing doors.

Our Finance room bleeds into the Point of Sale Department. Our Support Team can easily see into the Marketing room. Our Merchant Relations Team happily shares a room with our Sales Reps. Aside from a room for our servers, all doors stay open at Gravity.

Well, that’s not entirely true. We do shut the bathroom doors.

There’s a few reasons behind our open-door policy:

  • It encourages effective communication among team members and departments.
  • Deters people from thinking they’re interrupting something private.
  • Able to listen and chime in on conversations happening around the office.
  • Fosters a greater sense of team.
  • Mitigates “us vs. them” culture.
  • Promotes collaboration.
  • Sustains employee morale through healthy discussions and conversations.

Simply put, it’s a way for us to further increase transparency among our team.

A great example of how well the open-door policy works at Gravity happened while I was walking through the halls troubleshooting an issue with a merchant. I couldn’t figure out what was happening to their terminal, but because we have no division in our office, help was not far away.

A colleague of mine overheard me discussing the problem with the business owner. Since my colleague knew exactly what to do, they sent me a message over our in-office communicator, Slack, about how to fix the problem. My phone vibrated and the answer was right there in front of me.

Had my coworker or I been confined to our offices or had physical barriers (like a door), we’d have spent way more time trying to solve the problem. Instead, the openness helped amplify our ability to be effective and transparent.

That’s what brings me back to what my teacher taught me – transparency. Whatever we do or say, we must be willing to do or say publicly. At Gravity, if we cannot be transparent with our colleagues, how can we be transparent with our merchant partners? As someone who spent many years working at companies who only “talked the talk” when it came to transparent communication, I can attest that working for a company who actually “walks the walk” is a fundamental cultural shift that is all pros and no definable cons.

Explore transparency and as long as you have nothing to hide, I’d bet money you’ll see improvements across all aspects of life.

Categories: Be Your Own CEO, Management + Culture