November 24, 2008

Is your company a scaredy cat?

How would you feel about letting every single employee have authority to post items on the company intranet? I’m sure there are tonnes of companies that would freak out at such a suggestion. There are others that are doing it though – and very successfully. They see it as two-way communication – instead of management using the intranet to tell employees stuff employees can now do the same to management. The management teams that allow this are sending great messages: we are all equal, your voice is just as important as ours is, we trust you, we care about what you have to say.

Equal rights rule – and it shows through in the workplace culture. Companies that keep ‘secrets’ from their staff are (most unknowingly) seriously shooting themselves in the foot. They are proving employees aren’t ‘important enough’ to be told. Or they feel they are ‘protecting’ them from something when really they are not. Really ‘now’ companies know there is no reason to keep anything from staff. It is these same companies that are not scared to allow staff authority over the intranet.

A great example here is about Coke. Their employee in the example knew the exact profit margins on the product which allowed them to give a great customer experience. The employee wasn’t some clueless dude whose job it was to fill the machine – it was someone fully part of the company who knew its profit margin ‘secrets’. I know there are a lot of businesses that would never consider sharing their financial details with their team, especially small or family owned businesses. If they did though they may find staff are shocked – they thought the boss walked away with X million in their pocket every year which is why they were so peeved when they got only a $40 bonus. Transparency can bring new awareness to the team culture – when they see you don’t make the gazillions they thought you did. Perhaps they’ll be thrilled now with their hourly rate instead of thinking it should be doubled. This Coke story highlights how a bit of profit margin knowledge among staff helps them, you and the customer.

Whether it’s being transparent with numbers or sharing the ‘power’ of the intranet companies that are not scared of anything and are willing to see their employees as equals will always win. Such companies are also more human and more fun to work for and buy from.

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