Why do some businesses keep their financial goals hidden from team members?
From time to time I’ve encountered business leaders who have shared with me they do not like to let the team know the financial health of their business.
This has always struck me as an ineffective way of leading a business. A few reasons I’ve heard for not sharing financial data (except at year end when there are bonuses tied to the numbers):
In sports we always know the score. By knowing the score a team knows exactly what they need to do to put themselves in a position to win. Last weekend’s NFL play off games are great examples of how knowing the score helped drive desire and performance.
Do you think Aaron Rodgers or Dak Prescott walked into their huddles last weekend during the final 2-minutes discussing “Hey guys coach says we need to score. I think we should go try and score what do you think? I’m not sure how many points we need so let’s just give it our best effort.”
No they did not.
The coaches, the QB’s, and the rest of the teams all knew exactly how much time they had, the yards needed to score and stay alive in the game. No one quit or settled because everyone knew exactly what needed to be accomplished. Yet both teams did not win. It’s a fact of life sometimes we can know exactly what needs to be done, but in the end someone loses.
In business when we do not keep our teams informed on their performance and allow them to recognize how their efforts affect our scoreboard (AKA financials), we handicap our business’ performance.
Keeping with the football analogy, just because our running back is a free agent at the end of the season we are not going to withhold coaching him or including them in key plays this season. Yes, our running back could take the knowledge and use it against us if they leave, but they can help us win today. We will worry about the future what ifs if needed. Right now instead of trying to manage and insulate them from the bigger picture, we need their full participation to help us win. Insulating against a future unknown such as a team member leaving will only hurt the team and is insulting to them and the rest of the team.
I recently watched Simon Sinek give a talk about teams. He shared the following. “No one wakes up saying I want to go be managed or bossed today. However, people will say I want to be led at work today.” If we want to manage or boss our teams, then the right choice is to keep the team in the dark concerning the score for the company. If we want to lead our teams then we will have to trust them and teach them how to use the scoreboard we share. This will allow them to manage themselves. By allowing them to manage themselves, they can do their job and help us begin a comeback quarter (or sustain our lead if we are playing like the Patriots).
I look forward to reading your comments on how business leaders can best share their scoreboard, or if you have an opposing viewpoint I appreciate your input into this conversation.