When times are tough do we protect our staff too much? Do we believe that only managers should hold key information as they are the ones that need to come up with the solution? Or perhaps we feel that if staff knew exactly how bad things were, they wouldn’t be able to cope? Would panic? Become hysterical? Might leave?
I see this all the time: managers keeping the bad news to themselves. Yet one thing that staff really value, in terms of the ‘Psychological Contract’, is to be fully involved, and that means being fully involved in both the good and the bad times.
Ricardo Semler, who owns and leads one of the most successful companies in Brazil – and perhaps the world – and whose approach is studied by Harvard, practises full financial disclosure with his staff. And that includes his production line staff. He asks his accountants to produce straightforward monthly financial reports and then posts them up on the wall for all to see. He also provided training to his staff on how to read them.
The result? His staff feel fully involved. On one occasion, the trade union (who, in Brazil, have the reputation of being strongly aggressive toward employers) argued that he could not give his staff a planned pay increase ‘as the business could not afford it’. He gave the pay increase anyway. And you can bet the employees did whatever needed to done so that the business could afford it!
When I work with some organisations I often hear the cry: ‘They don’t seem to understand how vital this change is!’ and when I ask: ‘Are they fully familiar with the current financials and the figures?’ the answer is nearly always, ‘No’. Managers expect their word alone to be enough to create change. It’s not. Respecting your staff, by sharing the financial reality, is.
Full involvement means knowing the good, the bad and the ugly – and getting 100s of brains behind identifying and implementing the solution rather than just a handful.
What can you do to start including your team in the essential financials and figures that drive your business?