Let's talk numbers
Updated: Dec 21, 2019
What will happen if I share our numbers with my team?
What will they think when they see our revenue targets?
What will they think when they see our profit targets?
These are some of the questions I am asked regularly when companies first embark on their EOS® journey. They are completely normal questions too, nothing to be ashamed of. Verbalizing them is the first step to reaping the benefits of sharing this information.
...we’re going home at night and swimming back stroke in our money bin like Scrooge McDuck.
Let me address these reservations, well at least the three most common reservations (or fears).
One. People will think that we’re loaded, that we’re going home at night and swimming backstroke in our money bin like Scrooge McDuck. They will look at our profit numbers and think that they should get a slice of it. They will think that money is in my personal bank account.
Two. People will think we’re in trouble, they will see the profit and think that the ship is going down and that they had better abandon it before they go down too. Like Pink Panther, “exit stage left!”.
Three. People will see our numbers and not understand them. They may feel uncomfortable seeing the word “million” or even terms like “revenue”, “net profit” or “gross profit”.
If you have contemplated any of these three then lean into this one. These are the exact reasons why you should share this information with your team. Begin the learning experience. Let's open a dialogue that you have probably never had and field questions that will raise the overall level of understanding and engagement.
I will address all three directly.
One. If you are compensating your team appropriately and providing a great place to work, then this is a good opportunity to show people how the money is spent. You can remind them that you are entitled to be compensated too. I recommend using things like their pay before tax as an analogy, they are paid a certain amount, then there is tax, there are bills and living expenses. What is left over is usually spent on lifestyle. A business is the same.
Two. When times are good, we consolidate and enjoy some of the spoils. When times are tough, we band together and work through it. This is normal and a healthy conversation. Refer to point One and the need to build cash reserves. I recommend taking the team on a journey of understanding, efficiency and margin are important, but neither is possible if we don’t have clients. We need to maintain efficiency, protect margin and ensure our clients are happy. This is a shared responsibility and will put us in a position to turn things around.
Three. My favorite. This can be covered off adequately in points one and two. However, I would highly recommend that you explain the meaning of these terms every time you share the numbers. Don’t assume that people understand, by giving context and educating your team you are raising the overall business acumen. Next time they are interacting with your clients (or each other) they will have a heightened understanding of the financial aspects of a business.
Perhaps the elephant in the room here (in case you thought I was oblivious) is the prospect of a negative response irrespective of how closely you follow this advice. Well, that person is the wrong person. They don’t respect you, nor do they respect the business. They probably only care about themselves and not the team. If you didn’t know, now you know.
Hopefully this gives you some confidence to share your numbers and performance with your team. If you are already sharing this information, then power to you! If not, then maybe you can find the courage to do it now.