Conquering the Illusion of Transparency

Ladies and gentlemen, gather ‘round and listen up!

Have you ever been frustrated with your team? Do they take too many bathroom breaks? Do they spend more time chatting than working? Have no fear because I have the solution to all your problems: Conquering the Illusion of Transparency!

It’s a way you can get more done without imposing more rules or micromanaging every detail.  Sounds like a dream… right?

You see, it’s all about clear communication, setting expectations, and focusing on what’s important. But wait, you might think, “But Rick, my team should know what I want and need. I shouldn’t have to tell them!” Well, that, my friends, is the illusion of transparency in action. People can’t read your mind, so you gotta tell ‘em what’s up.

Illusion Of Transparency Rick WhiteI had an interesting conversation with a shop owner in Illinois a few years ago. He said, “Rick, I’m really upset. I have a tech that spends 45 minutes in the bathroom, and it’s driving me nuts.” I replied, “You’re not actually upset about the tech being in the bathroom.” “Yes, I am,” retorted the owner. And this exchange went back and forth a few times until I said, “Let me ask you a different question: if your tech was producing 65 hours of work a week, would you care how much time he spent in the bathroom?”

And his answer was an immediate NO.

I said, “You’re not upset about the bathroom. You’re upset about the lack of hours, but you haven’t communicated that.”

The “Illusion of Transparency” is a psychological term that refers to the feeling that others should know what we need, even though they may not. This phenomenon occurs to everyone, and we must remember that people cannot read our minds.

So how do you overcome this illusion? We’ve got to be clear and direct in communicating our needs and expectations to others and being open to understanding the perspective of others. Instead of assuming that others know what we need, we should consciously express ourselves clearly and ask for what we want.

It can also be helpful to give others the benefit of the doubt and assume they do not know what we need rather than assuming that they are intentionally not fulfilling our needs. Additionally, practicing active listening and being open to feedback can help us understand and address any miscommunication or misunderstandings.

In the shop, setting clear goals and objectives for projects, regular check-ins, and performance evaluations also helps to ensure everyone is on the same page and meeting expectations.

I encourage you to embrace the illusion of transparency. Understand that people don’t know what you want and need as clearly as you think they do. Don’t expect them to because they won’t. To handle challenging situations with grace and humility, we must be able to ask for what we want and need in a very clear way. That is the essence of the matter.

The Illusion of Transparency is about clear communication, focusing on what’s important, and setting expectations. It’s about understanding the goals, so everyone works together towards the same objectives. Additionally, it’s about understanding the Minimum Levels of Acceptable Performance and creating a system that keeps everyone informed of their progress toward those goals. Ultimately, it’s all about communication, specifically on three topics.

  1. Goals: Having a clear and achievable goal for your company and everyone in it is essential. A written plan that is understood by all, and supported by goals and tasks, should be created. This plan should specify who is responsible for what and when it needs to be completed.
  2. MLAP (Minimum Levels of Acceptable Performance): Some businesses struggle to reach their goals, even though they may be good at discussing them. I experienced this myself at one point. I was showing people what success looked like but not what failure looked like. This is what I realized one day while watching a football game: when one team was tackled in their end zone, the other team got points. That’s a loss. By sharing your Minimum Levels of Acceptable Performance (MLAP), you can provide a clear picture of what it takes to succeed. The more specific and quantitative the information, the more effective this tool will motivate employees to reach their full potential. Establishing clear objectives and expectations for performance helps everyone stay focused on doing their best work and avoids confusion over acceptable results.
  3. Feedback: To be a great leader, you must be willing to give difficult feedback to others. Don’t be afraid of losing people. Invest in your business and your people by helping them improve their skills, get promoted, and grow with your company.

Give daily feedback to show your team members that you care. Celebrate successes and discuss areas of improvement. Ask how you can support their growth. This makes a great leader: investing in employees’ personal and professional lives.

Leaders are particularly susceptible to the illusion of transparency because they are often expected to have all the answers and always be in control. They may assume that their team members know their thoughts or feelings and understand their expectations.

However, this is not the case. To be an effective leader, it is essential to recognize and address the illusion of transparency by actively communicating with your team. This includes being open, transparent, honest, and vulnerable about your weaknesses and your expectations for the team.

Being transparent about your weaknesses can help to build trust and credibility with your team. It demonstrates that you are human and understands the importance of growth and development. It also shows that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions and are open to feedback and suggestions.

Moreover, being transparent with your team also fosters accountability and encourages everyone to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. By being honest and direct, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands what is expected of them.

Summing up, overcoming the illusion of transparency is essential for effective leadership. Leaders can foster trust, accountability, and growth in their teams by being open, transparent, honest, and vulnerable. This leads to better outcomes, effective teamwork, and improved communication.

Remember, it’s all about communication, specifically on three topics: Goals, MLAP, and Feedback.

So, the next time you are frustrated with your team, take a step back and think about improving your communication and setting clear expectations. Your team, and your business, will thank you.

If you would like help in documenting your expectations for the positions in your company, download Rick’s FREE worksheet set by visiting the following link: or by texting the word “transparency” to (833) 602-8463.

Rick White ArticlesRick White is President of 180BIZ, a business coaching, and training company specifically for auto repair shop owners. Rick helps auto and truck repair shop owners go from struggling to stay open to being the go-to shop in their market by working smarter, not harder.

He’s taught thousands to not only make more money than they ever thought possible but also to have the time to enjoy it with their family and friends, a true rarity in our industry. Reach out to Rick by emailing him here: