It takes an adult to open the books

If there is one thing you can be sure of when you’re starting the Great Game of Business®, or implementing any open-book system, it’s that there will always be a level of confusion, fear, doubt, and ignorance when you first open your books. The process can, and should, push your team out of their comfort zone. However – if not handled correctly, this can also lead to heightened emotions, communication problems, disruptions that could be counter productive to the environment you try to create.

Before you jump in, you need to establish the proper relationships with your company’s employees. More often than not, leaders can fall in to the trap of treating their employees like children – and learning to apply principles of adult communication can be crucial to your Game’s success.

Here’s 5 easy tips to help stop the parent-child interaction

1. Use a coaching approach. We often use a coaching, rather than teaching, approach to support our employees. By encouraging staff to work a problem out for themselves it naturally raises their game by treating them like an adult. Moving people out of their comfort zone stretches them to learn at their optimum rate – however, be aware of body language and tone so as not to overwhelm.

2. Ask them for their opinion.  Numerous studies have demonstrated that when employees feel like their opinions are valued, they become more involved and engaged in the business and have a higher level of job satisfaction. While there may be hesitation initially –simply asking can yield feedback that could help you to streamline systems , increase customer satisfaction, or bolster morale.

3. Allow them to make decisions. When your employees understand how their actions affect your business, they’ll behave differently because of that. Be mindful of bogging peoples time or creating inefficiencies – focus on those decisions that are truly meaningful.

4. Support them when they’ve made errors. When a mistake happens, use it as a learning opportunity – ask the employee what the process has taught them, and get them to offer feedback on how to avoid the error a second time. Provide your team with the opportunity to make mistakes – as a learning opportunity – though management should retain the right to veto any decisions that might threaten the sustainability of your business.

5. Reveal your own ignorance. Admitting your own blind spots, and celebrating the process of acquiring knowledge, can assist in building relationships and credibility in the eyes of your team. While as a leader you don’t need to have all the answers – you do need tofocus on asking the right questions and engaging your team.