Foster teamwork by sharing financials

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in Leaders & Managers

One thing that binds the Zappos team together is an openness with numbers. It shares vital signs not just on the team level, but across the entire company.

What are the tenets of a team culture that values such broadcasts? Speak to the masses. Craft and communicate metrics in a language everyone can understand. Make deadlines and accountability visible.

At the online shoe company, for example, a finance class teaches every employee to read a balance sheet.

“Last year, a lot of people in the company wondered how we did a billion dollars in revenue but didn’t turn a big profit,” says Loren Becker, a super­visor of training at Zappos.

“So we showed everyone that about half of our money went to buying the goods we sold, a quarter went to rent and salaries, a quarter went to advertising and other expenses. Pretty soon there’s not a lot left over of that billion.”

That communication about financials has fostered teamwork in cutting costs.

Becker hears people saying things like, “Maybe we can do without these pens.”

“We’ve become a lot more cost conscious because of our openness,” she says.

Lesson: Broadcast deadlines, goals, responsibilities and progress for everyone to see. Help team members be more aware of each group’s objectives.

— Adapted from “The Orange Revolution,” Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton.

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