Why I invite all 900 of my employees to board meetings

The more, the merrier.
The more, the merrier.
Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder
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The tech company I lead, Rubrik, has 900 employees around the globe. And as CEO, I invite every one of them to every board meeting.

Some attend in-person. Others by teleconference. No question is off limits, aside from confidential employee or client information.

Open board meetings may seem extreme, but they are part of a strict code of transparency that I believe factors heavily into our innovation and rapid growth.

This kind of honesty can be scary at times, but when the company is honest about both successes and setbacks, it creates a context and a narrative that employees can understand and become invested in. Not only are we empowering employees with information, we’re giving them an opportunity to help solve challenges that are outside of their day-to-day roles.

The truth will set you free, but it can get messy

Some of the best results of our open board meetings have involved breaking down silos between departments and allowing employees to stretch or to challenge the status quo.

Back when we were preparing to launch, for instance, we had to create our first website. The obvious process was for the marketing department to handle that project. Then, during a board meeting, an engineer raised his hand and declared that he wanted to be in charge of the website and build it out for the marketing team. This engineer went on to single-handedly create our first website and to oversee its successful launch. If he had not been given the opportunity to raise his hand during a board meeting, we would have missed out on his passion and talent.

In addition to opportunities like these, transparency also comes with challenges. We haven’t yet come across a question in one of our board meetings that we couldn’t or wouldn’t answer, but we have faced some uncomfortable moments.

In one board meeting, somebody asked whether a specific mid-level manager had what it took to become a top-functional leader. In order to be completely transparent, I answered that we didn’t know yet whether that person would be right for bigger roles or not, but that he had been doing an excellent job and was showing all the signs of that growth.

The manager we were discussing was in the meeting. It must have been a scary thing to hear that I was not certain he would be able to grow into bigger roles, but in the end, the truth became a powerful motivation. He came up to me after the meeting to let me know that he appreciated my honesty.

The benefits of transparency

If achievements and challenges are out in the open, everyone can align on long-term strategy with a valuable “we’re all in this together” mindset that brings teams closer. On the executive level, this involves placing a high level of trust in virtually every employee. You must trust them to care about the company as much as you do.

I’ve found that this philosophy builds resiliency in our employees. If they understand the risks and rewards of running a high-growth startup, it pushes them to drive for success with us.

If we had fallen into the typical approach of selective information sharing, we would not be where we are today.

Bipul Sinha is co-founder and CEO of Rubrik.