As discussed in my latest blog about Empowerment there are three keys to the Empowerment journey. In this blog I will discuss the first key – Share information with everyone.
Many leaders want their employees to make good decisions. Most companies talk about empowering their employees. I am not fully convinced that they really mean it. To be honest, I feel that many companies have posters, mission statements etc. that talk about Empowerment when in reality the majority of the organization doesn’t feel empowered at all. Why is that?
Maybe it is because the company doesn’t know what Empowerment really is. Maybe it is because the company thinks if they show the world that they are an empowered company it will attract employees and customers. I don’t know. I just know that I have seen many examples where the so-called Empowerment is only a marketing gimmick and not real.
The first thing you need to do is to start sharing all your company information. If you don’t provide your employees with proper information, how can you expect them to make good business decisions?
When we had our workshops to prepare us for our Empowerment journey, this key created some very interesting questions as well as some major concerns.
I heard things like:
We can’t share the full pipeline, what if it goes to our competitor?
Our Team Members might not know how to read the Balance Sheet and the P&L
Sometimes we have months, typically mid-month where cash flow is tight, I think we will scare people away if they don’t really understand how to read this
All fair questions, especially the last one. We are three years old and still building our company, so of course cash is tight and it could scare some people when they see red numbers. With regards to the pipeline, I am pretty sure that many pipeline’s over the years have ended up in the competitor’s mailbox. How many times have you lost a deal due to that? And then there is the complex Balance Sheet and P&L, many people don’t know how to read this so what is the point?
But again, you have to have all the information to make good business decisions, and that goes for everyone in the organization. I cannot stress this enough, you cannot make good a business decision if you do not have the information and data. In fact, I am not even sure that people are motivated to make decisions without information. They become arms and legs without a brain. You don’t want that!
In many hierarchical organizations, you are often being rewarded for being compliant instead of using good judgement. I still remember my first yearly review in an organization where I worked. My leader was giving me the highest rating available and it was all positive. I asked if there was any negative feedback and he said “you are not really compliant, but hey you cannot be compliant and perform at the same time”.
The key here is that our employees need to feel that they can trust the leadership/management and the organizational systems in the company, otherwise they will not take the risk of being accountable for making important decisions.
We also need to change the way we work. Urge people to make decisions and then support them on those decisions. If they fail, we need to learn from it and teach them that failure is a part of the learning curve so it is okay to fail. If they feel that there could be consequences for making the wrong decision, they will not take the risk of making any decisions. They will feel it is safer not to do anything and let someone else make the decision, but then you do not have Empowerment.
Back to the pipeline sharing, what are the pros and cons of sharing the information?
You need to both plan how to share the information and most important, people need to be trained in how to read the material. Do not send the management package overnight, for us it will be a 12 months journey.
Start by educating everyone in the organization on how the company generates money, what are the expenses and you makes a profit (it will of course be different for non-profit organizations).
Then you should show all the operational figures as income statements, cash-flow statements and balance sheets. Share it from a company perspective but also from a department perspective so the team in the various departments gets a better understanding on how they can make a different and how it works all up.
As a part of the training, it is also important to teach them about how you handle confidential and sensitive information. And remember there are a lot of other information that you need to share, like customer praising, complaints, chargeability, goals, KPIs etc. All dependent on what type of business you are.
There are several companies that offer short and crisp training that you can leverage when you teach all the people in your organization.
What will we share?
Basically everything! We have decided to have look at this from four levels. The employee, then the project, then departments and finally the company. It all has to be in a simple format, accessible everywhere and always up to date. The only information that will not be shared, is your personal dashboard, only you, and HR have access to that information.
We already share a lot of the information, and the Empowerment Pod is now in process of figuring out the best way to share and also how we will train the employees in reading the information. The Pod has created a plan for 2018, where they are adding more information to share each quarter and by then end of the year, we are fully implemented. And if you are not sharing much today, it is actually okay to start easy, it is a lot to absorb for your company.
The Key 1 is actually the easy one, next month I will blog about Key 2 which is Create autonomy through boundaries.
Until then, keep sharing and don’t be afraid!