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Unlock the mystery of openbook management

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Many business owners worry about sharing too much information with employees. They may figure it will either turn pliant workers into resentful critics or bore staffers who don’t care about the company’s numbers. But the secret of communicating financial data with your team is to track profit and loss while also teaching them to read a balance sheet. Don’t dwell on one element without the other.

According to John Witt, CEO of Witt Plastics in Greenville, Ohio, “So many companies just concentrate on the P&L statement, but that’s not enough. You can make a lot of money in a given quarter, but have no money in the bank or very low margins. I want my employees to understand our balance sheet along with the P&L.”

While Witt’s 115 employees appreciate these issues, the hundreds of thousands of workers at General Motors may wonder what’s going on. When they hear that GM earned a record $6.7 billion in 1997, they understandably demand higher pay and better benefits. But that $6.7 billion produced a paltry net margin of only 3.9% (by contrast, Ford earned $6.9 billion in profits with $25 billion less in revenues).

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