Open the books

Showing the numbers isn’t always a disaster.

  • March 28, 2013

Want your people to understand the cost of doing business – and to start really working for the team? Then open your books and show them what it costs to operate the company.

Transparency goes a long way toward building a cohesive team. That’s what Eileen Michaels discovered at her firm, A Yard & A Half Landscaping in Waltham, Mass.

“I wanted our employees to know that in our industry, we are not making huge amounts of profit and ‘using them,’ basically,” Michaels says. “So, I thought, let’s put it all out on the table – and it’s amazing when you do that. It’s very eye-opening for people.”

At least once each year, the staff gathers for a financial debriefing and forum for sharing ideas. Michaels breaks out the white board and employees “yell out things that they could be better.” This feedback forms a bucket list for improvement at A Yard & A Half – and the team process builds buy-in.

“It becomes part of our culture,” Michaels says of the open-book, open door philosophy, where workers are encouraged to share their ideas. “They always have a say in how things go.”