Somewhere in the middle of new employee orientation, more years ago than I shall admit, I suddenly jerked awake when the briefer very slowly enunciated that “It is a fireable offense for employees to discuss their salaries.”
Tom Peters once insisted that in a capitalistic society, where we reward according to performance, why not post the scores? The answer, quite obviously, is that we often don’t reward according to performance, despite what we say. What companies get from such a policy is mistrust, with rumor replacing fact. As the WSJ reported in an article today (paywall), even ostensibly well-run companies like Apple would sometimes rather play games than build a more powerful organization.
The article makes an important point: Don’t kid yourself — people will find out the truth. And some of the better performers will feel betrayed.
Like many readers of this blog, I come from a military background, where you can look at people’s uniforms and know to within a few dollars a year how much they make. And not coincidentally, the best military organizations make a fetish out of building Einheit.
In Boyd’s framework, Einheit is what defines the organization: We strive to improve it within our organization, and one of your primary goals is to destroy Einheit in your opponents. If you build an environment where internal politics flourishes, you’re doing your opponents’ jobs for them.
As the Journal article observes: “So one way for employers to head off internal politics: Be even more transparent.” It would seem logical. Showing that you have nothing to hide is a step towards building trust.