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Open the books to educate your team

Motivate employees with bottom-line figures

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in Dealing with Bosses,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management

In the past five years, many managers have adopted “open-book management” as a way to teach employees to link their jobs to the company’s larger financial performance. This way, staffers can see how their efforts directly affect the bottom line.

When people at all levels understand that they can make a difference, they’re more apt to work smarter and accept their accountability. By demystifying your firm’s budget and income statements, you engender trust and make it easy for employees to commit to improving the bottom line.

Take these steps to apply open-book management:

Share key ratios. You and your bosses may use certain benchmarks to measure your unit’s operations. Examples include occupancy rates for hotels, loss ratios for insurers and load factors for airlines. Share these vital numbers with all your employees.

Explain why these numbers matter. Then show how each person’s job can influence whether the company meets its goals. When a file clerk realizes that his accuracy can lead to increased client satisfaction— and that in turn can generate a higher retention rate—the worker will seek ways to do a better job.

Host round-table discussions. Schedule regular informal meetings in which senior executives discuss the firm’s financials with about 20 employees at a time. Provide ample time for participants to ask questions. At each discussion, introduce at least one new concept such as the cash-flow process or the difference between revenue and profit.

Keep score. Create visual reminders so that everyone can track bottom-line progress. Examples: Post the weekly figures on a central bulletin board, send e-mail updates or circulate the latest numbers in a newsletter.

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