If someone works for me, they know the score.
I do my very best to share as much information as possible with people – whether it is the P&L numbers for the past quarter or my latest musings on our strategic direction. When employees feel involved, they feel empowered, and they can’t be involved if you are only communicating a fraction of the truth.
I care deeply about the success of LMA, and from my point of view, being 100% transparent with my staff is the only way to give them a chance to care about it. Too many MDs (from any industry) hold their cards close to their chests, assuming that their “minions” won’t understand the depths of their brilliance. For me, the opposite is true; I want to involve them, I want to understand their views, and it often creates debates that I would not have had within my own head.
When you involve people in decision-making and give them the same knowledge that you have, they can come up with some wonderful solutions. Many heads are far better than one, and it actually makes life far less stressful for an owner of a business. You celebrate success together and you batten down the hatches during the hard times together. There are no nasty surprises and individuals truly understand their impact on the business.
Being transparent with people also applies to the emotional part of business. Taking people through a P&L is all well and good, but if you don’t understand each other on a personal level, then you may as well be working with highly informed robots. Being transparent about your feelings is difficult, because not everyone will feel comfortable to reciprocate, but the more open you are, the better relationships will be forged.
If people are wondering why the boss is in a bad mood, it doesn’t contribute much to their job security. If I let them know that I am snappy because I pranged my car this morning, people understand the situation and they can relate. Obviously, there is a fine line here with being a little too personal, but they guys that I work with are “grown-up” enough to understand where that is!
The aim of any boss is to develop the people that are working with them. My view is that if I let my guys in on my thought process, it will allow them to see their parts of the business the way I view the whole business. I want them all to start to think like an MD, armed with maximum information, in charge of their own destinies.
We run focus groups, we ask for feedback, we encourage a healthy disrespect for the accepted norm - anything to give people a chance to get involved. I am sure there is more that we could be doing, but we’re in a pretty good place.
When you share information with people, you have to trust them to use it.