Think back to when you were a young child and you would curl up in a cozy space listening to someone read aloud the ever-popular Little Golden Books (“The Poky Little Puppy” was always my favorite!). Perhaps it was a parent, a teacher or a sibling who read to you. Whether it be a campfire story, a happily ever after story or a biographical story there’s a piece of storytelling in all of us. Stories connect us, teach us, inspire us, persuade us, humanize us.
As a great mentor once taught me: numbers tell a story. Why aren’t we sharing our stories with our teams every day? What are we as Owners, Investors, Managers and Leaders scared of?
Times are changing and gone are the simplified days of show up, punch in, work hard and punch out. Everything is so much more complicated in today’s workforce (thank you, Millennials!). Our teams crave information differently today and likely due to the increased accessibility of technology allowing for information sharing to occur instantaneously. Our minds have been trained to process by means of information overload leading to new abilities in compartmentalizing and prioritizing. Managing your business with a shared approach in strategic vision, holistic purpose and consistent process is challenging as it requires constant on-the-ground action at every level, yet it is so important for the overall success of any business.
Every person in your organization views the mission and goals differently simply by virtue of their role, but by limiting the opportunity for information sharing, you’re essentially offering a vehicle without fuel. You must have both to accomplish movement. If you aren’t being transparent with your financials, especially to those you entrust in your organization to provide you with profitable results; you’re leaving money on the table.
I learned this the hard way. My early leadership experience offered so much growth in so many ways both personally and professionally, yet I didn’t have full access to the numbers for myself or my team. In retrospect, the limited access I did have in my early 20’s came with a sense of privilege and I withheld more than I ever should have. It caused a disjointed effort amongst those I relied on most to provide us with the results we so desperately sought, and it wasn’t long before we all went our separate ways in search for more. Making mistakes is part of being a student of the business; a critical component for anyone interested in continuous learning and lasting growth. But I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again!
Fast forward through a few transitional years and I found myself seated at an executive table with some of the brightest in the business. Each week my new leadership team met in a very intentional way, behind closed doors and with prepared packets of information on hand. We reviewed our overall experience ratings as provided by our hotel guests which placed us in the top 30% of the brand. We set very specific, measurable goals and openly discussed ways we could assist one another in the various departments to reach our goals.
Our main objective: earn a position within the top 5% of the hotel brand in overall guest experience on a worldwide platform. It was a lofty goal to say the least considering the top 30% was the best the hotel had ever achieved since it’s conception 16 years prior. We shared weekly forecasts down to the penny. We analyzed prior results, budgets, competitor’s placements, staffing challenges and department expenses. We enlisted everyone’s help in identifying patterns and trends, in marketing strategies and revenue building and in creatively overcoming the obstacles in our way of the very goal we made together.
It wasn’t until months later that I realized we had created so much more than an onset goal; we had created a family full of trust amongst ourselves. We would not fail each other nor the teams we served. The energy was rampant throughout the hotel and team members were seeing their value and roles differently than before. The leadership team brought direct communication to the front lines and shared from their own perspectives the mission at hand. Not only because we asked them to, but because they were aware, empowered, committed, engaged and challenged on a personal level. Our team members brought this directly to our guests by way of impactful service.
We created a powerhouse of knowledge in our people that left no room for mediocracy. Our retention rate soared 20+ points higher than the industry average and within a year and a half we were celebrating our successes in achieving overall guest experience scores that put us within the top 5.8% of the brand, worldwide! This endeavor of sheer transparency provided our teams with a fun, supportive and engaging culture while most importantly, providing Ownership with significant gains in all metrics and a double-digit percentage increase to the bottom line.
So, what changes when your associates know and understand the story? They gain an understanding of the financial implications of their own actions and decisions. They become part of the solution. As Owners and Managers, we must provide the knowledge and tools in order to expect good decision making to occur. The power of numbers, even for those who are less financially literate, can offer ownership, connectedness and engagement leading to higher retention and a stronger ROI. Every organization goes through tumultuous times and the more often you can involve your teams, the more frequently you’ll be able to identify trends that you can proactively and collaboratively attack head on.
Transparency in sharing information allows for you to hold teams accountable in a way that is fact based instead of emotion based. Imagine, you just had the sharpest decline in years, and you feel the need to address it with your team.
Naturally, you’re frustrated and disappointed. How are you expressing your concerns without offering concrete examples within your results? Are you certain your message is being heard in a way that will convert your results? This is a huge mistake we as leaders make; expecting different results by offering the vehicle, or infrastructure, without offering the fuel, or basic understandings of how we got to the initial results in the first place! In turn, this leads to frustration within the team and over time, a severe disengagement that can threaten the organization as a whole. Why? Because they don’t know the story.
Isn’t it true that everyone measures success differently? Is it possible to define success without numbers? How do you measure success and how do you communicate successes and opportunities to your teams when you’re not sharing numbers? I would argue that without specified goals and metrics, such as budgets and forecasts, it’s difficult to ascertain progressive positive results. We are in the midst of a pandemic with financial implications that have uprooted our entire fiscal year and beyond. Without a budget or plan for next year, how will you measure your sustainability? How can you be certain you’re maximizing opportunities at every level if you don’t have anything to compare your results against? Or worse, what power will your numbers hold if you’re not willing to share them? These are all valid questions to consider as you prepare to engage your teams with your story.
If you don’t feel you have a story to tell, or you don’t know how to best tell your story, Lucro Management can help. Give us a call and let us build and share your story for these critical years ahead!