Open book companies see value in sharing the results of the business with everyone. The “financials” are reviewed, KPI’s discussed. Generally speaking everything about the business and its performance is shared with everyone. The first time I tried this I think I expected an explosion of energy and enthusiasm. Frankly, I found that most were intimidated and had little exposure to finance. I even had my administrative assistant close my door and ask when she was being let go. She figured that I was telling everyone about the results of the business to setup some sort of management plan of action. So much for instant success with this plan.
I had worked in the family business Placers, and helped role out this concept across the business. I feel that it was one of the more important elements of our culture. It was wonderful to see people in control of their own destiny like that. Why had my organization not embraced it? I went looking for answers. First off I found that people needed knowledge. Knowledge in numbers yes. But they also needed the knowledge to trust the correlation between what they did each day and the numbers. Staff did not believe that they could impact the business. That there jobs did not have the influence on the bottom line. That there job had less of an impact than I wanted! This had to change.
Why bother with all of this? Culturally led business’s rock- they outperform other companies! And for my business “intrapreneurship” was a key way to give my staff the knowledge, confidence and information to really serve and wow their customers and help their peers. Never heard of intrapreneurial? I have a simple goal really; I want employees to have an ownership mindset in the business without the financial risk.
I have had mixed success with the concept. Yet I always stick with it. It is something I will never stop believing in. And nothing makes me more disappointed in a leader who won’t share. The reasons? I think I have heard them all. The staff will be afraid. The staff can’t handle it. The team can’t do anything about the results. Their role has no influence! Hogwash. Only if you want it that way.
Here is what I know:
- Staff needs to know the truth. They deserve it. If you create this environment know that if you stop sharing it can reduce trust.
- Some will count paperclips rather than spend. This creates an ownership mentality. All will look to spend a dollr effectively.
- It is confusing at first. Do we focus on top line or bottom line? You need to lead through it.
- Consistency is key.
- This gives people some say. It gives them a voice. Remember to listen.
- Employees want you to make money. It is ok if your business is a success.
- Cash flow is the hardest to grasp.
- Accounts receivable is a great place to begin.
- Knowledge is empowering. The implications on customer pricing, on resolving customer disputes, on the business are powerful.
- Force to staff to collaborate. A Key customer say, “don’t drill below the water line.” In business this means a little knowledge is dangerous. We still need to know the impact of our decisions. That we are accountable for the decisions we make. Ask for help!
Thinking of rolling out open book concepts? Have your own stories to share? I have heard from so many people by email or by phone. Please feel free to post or attach your ideas!
Until the next blog, Happy Thanksgiving to all! Count your blessings. And teach others to do the same.