When most people hear the term Open-Book Management – they take it to mean simply sharing financial information with their team, and while many understand the concept when it comes to opening the kimono, people are hesitant.

If you open the books in a lean year – will employees run for the hills? If you open the books in a good year – will they want a raise? Guess what – they already want one!

If you’re thinking about opening the books as a way to encourage your team to think and act like an owner, you have to start with educating them.

The point is to not turn the team into accountants, but to teach them business – including the language of business, the financials.

Employees rarely need to know debits and credits – or how to make adjusting journal entries. But – depending on the company – they may very well need to know how to calculate production efficiency, why receivable days matter, or how a new computer system will affect the profit & loss statement and balance sheet.

When you teach people the business and connect them to the numbers, they’re able to focus on what really matters to your business. They’ll see things differently, and they’ll think differently because of that.

So how do you start the education process? It all starts with teaching them how money comes into the business and how it goes out of the business – and connecting them to what’s left afterwards.

One approach we take with the teams we work with is to bring it to life with visuals.

In a game-design day with a team in the manufacturing industry we created stacks of literally millions of “dollars” – what was coming in to the business, but then started taking away piles of “cash” – not just wages but also overheads like rent and electricity, equipment, machinery, stock, consumables, running costs, and so on… until there really was not much left in the stack of cash as profit.

As it stands, some of your team probably think your business makes a ton of money already – and they’re making decisions and taking actions based on that assumption now. Perhaps wasteful ones, because they think the business can afford it. This is a great exercise to bring it to life, and connect your team to what’s actually happening inside the business.

If you’re looking for ways to get your team at all levels of your business informed, involved and engaged in making the business a success, get in touch with us to kick around how we can help you to use game-based principles to transform your culture, lift team engagement, and drive your business forward.

Looking for a way to educate your team on what’s happening in the business? Try this approach to bring the numbers to life.