Going back many years I reckon lots of firm owners had a fear of sharing information, somehow thinking it could be used against them. Over time I’ve seen this diminish and yet I still occasionally come across a firm owner who is reluctant to share information about the business with team members. Frankly, I think this is to the detriment of the team members and the owner.
How much information do you share with your team and could you benefit from sharing more?
Smart people like to understand things and sharing numbers and other stuff about the business and what’s going on in it, helps that. It’s a part of them feeling like they are a part of something and contributes to their engagement.
Here are some things I see as not negotiable for a team member to have access to:
Information specific to the team member:
- Jobs allocated to them, with start and end dates
- WIP, debtors, fees and write offs for all jobs they work on
- Productivity / Utilisation
Seems obvious right? I still see an occasional instance where team members do not get to see this stuff. Makes no sense.
Financial and other firm performance information:
- The vision mission and values of the business
Your people want to know where the firm is going, why it does what it does and what behaviours are expected
- Fees targets and actuals reported on monthly
In my experience many of your young accountants will happily do a little bit more if it means meeting a target
- Client wins and losses reported on monthly
Client wins inject energy and discussion of losses and what we learned from them injects wisdom
Information about what’s going on in the firm:
- Job vacancies
Your team can help you find the right people, but only if they know!
- Team member arrivals and departures
I am still surprised by the number of firms who do this poorly.
- Team member leave
Many firms have a publicly accessible leave calendar which helps with planning of jobs and firm activities.
- Significant projects going on / firm initiatives
Team members will be likely involved in some of these and if they are not might be able to contribute something if they know about them.
- Marketing activity
Another area where team members can contribute if they know what’s going on.
- Client newsletters
I’ve seen situations where a firm newsletter has gone out to clients but team members are not aware of this. Clients start to ring with questions and it can get a bit embarrassing when the team member has no idea what the client is talking about!
- Team member birthdays, achievements and milestones
Recognition of these is another contributor to team member engagement
Can you think of more? Let me know what else you would add.
My overarching point is that the smart people you have in your firm are interested in what’s going on and will respond well to a more inclusive approach to sharing of information.
As for the sharing the profitability of a firm, I’ll leave that discussion for another day.