Empowering your people to perform
“Communicate everything you can to your associates. The more they know, the more they care. Once they care, there is no stopping them.”
Sam Walton, Wal-Mart
A survey conducted by Glenn Tobe and Associates revealed that the second most important motivating factor that employees sought from management was ‘feeling in on things’. By the way, number one was ‘appreciation’.
Can you imagine a high performance sports team being kept in the dark as to what this weeks game plan is, and also that during the game itself, members of the team were prohibited from looking at the scoreboard. Bloody ridiculous you would say.
But how close is this analogy to what happens with many business teams? The closest some teams get to knowing where the company is headed, is an out-dated dust covered mission/vision/values statement that hangs in reception, the result of a management visioning retreat held over five years ago, or possibly even longer.
One of the keys to building a high performance business team is to keep the team ‘in on things’; and I don’t mean just some things, I mean everything. The one proviso I would make is that I do not believe it is prudent to disclose information that is of a commercially sensitive nature, however as most organisations are not at the leading edge of their respective industries or professions, commercially sensitive information of this nature for most companies is rare.
The term for what I am talking about is ‘open and full disclosure’. Others sometimes call it ‘open-book management’. Companies that have embraced the concept, for which they receive my heartiest congratulations, go to great pains to make sure their employees are kept up to date with every aspect of what is happening within their organisation. Monthly meetings, and in some instances weekly, with all staff in attendance, are held to reveal, share and discuss the company’s performance figures. To assist in the process, all staff, and I mean all staff, receive training in basic accounting, which enables them to read, decipher and understand production schedules, cashflow statements, profit and loss accounts and balance sheets. This empowerment of staff makes a huge difference in the level of accountability and ‘buy-in’ which staff take onboard in helping to improve the company’s performance. In other words they take ownership of the company at a cellular level.
“ The more people know about a company, the better the company will perform” – Jack Stack, ‘The Great Game of Business’
The comment I hear from some business owners and managers is that they don’t know if their people can be trusted with such information. Well in my experience the quickest way to create trustworthy people is simply to ‘trust them’. You’ll be amazed how people live up to your expectations of them. It’s another key to business success; always have the highest expectations of your people.
“An individual without information cannot take responsibility; an individual who is given information cannot help but take responsibility.” – Jan Carlzon, ‘Moments of Truth’