How an open information policy can inspire your employees to be intrapreneurial

The modern day employee is held to some pretty high standards. Not only have expectations in terms of deliverables never been higher, ever-evolving technology and techniques in the workplace often mean its normal for employees to have to learn on the fly while making a meaningful contribution to the business at the same time. 

To be able to meet these demands, there are a number of things an employee needs: a supportive boss and team, the right tools of the trade and the ability to learn fast to name a few. However, there is one vital ingredient which is often over-looked in a high pressure environment: the right information.

We recently conducted research that found that four in five employees believe their bosses should be sharing more information with them. Clearly, not having the full picture and feeling left out of the loop is going to be detrimental to coming up with new ideas that are properly aligned to a company’s goals.

It seems like most employers are failing to keep up their side of the bargain. So, how can businesses use hard metrics to get the most out of team members? 

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The first issue to tackle is the information itself. More often than not it’s not just the company communication strategy which is flawed. It stems from the wrong information being measured in the first place. We recently conducted research which found that nearly half (49 per cent) of SME owners in the UK have failed to identify any Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), the critical metrics that contribute to their business’ growth.

Not having the right key metrics in place will leave your teams with no chance of producing work that is closely linked to the business objectives, because any information that employees receive will not be focused on the numbers that make the most difference to company growth. Getting everyone aligned with the right set of focused metrics may take some effort at first and you may need to adjust goals as you try out new methods of measuring. But once you’re confident you’re looking at the right numbers, your workforce will be able to focus on what makes the most difference to the bottom line. 

Once you are looking at the right numbers, the next step is to track and communicate metrics. If managers want their teams to push the boundaries and deliver their best work they will need to give them all the tools to succeed and one of those tools is the right information.

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This is a very important step. The fastest way to demotivate your team is to hold them to goals they are unaware of. Make sure you are very clear about the key data you are tracking and what success equates to. Communicating this clearly and giving the whole team the ability to monitor these KPIs in real time will increase both the motivation and efficiency of your team. Getting info into the hands of team members will allow them to take control of work and make decisions without bureaucracy or present solutions which will be better than ill-informed solutions put together without any quantitative context.

Many companies clearly have work to do in creating transparent, collaborative environments. According to a survey from Weekdone.com, 39 per cent of employees don't feel that their input is appreciated. Encourage the members of your team to fully participate by inviting their input and suggestions on how to do things better. Ask questions, listen to their answers, and, whenever possible, implement their solutions.

Creating such an environment won’t just encourage team members to produce better work; it could also help you retain the best talent. Our research found that a quarter of people have left an organisation because they felt left in the dark about the performance and direction of the company they worked at. 

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Opening up company information will likely seem scary; however the alternative can be far worse.

Lessons can be learnt from entrepreneur and start-up co-founder, Kelly Sutton, and his previous business, LayerVault. The team only looked at key company information such as customer churn rates sporadically, meaning the organisation was flying blind to diminishing customer returns. Without fully understanding the problem at hand, the team was unable to rectify these issues before it was too late and the company went under. Sutton took these lessons on board in his latest venture, imgix, an on-demand image infrastructure. At imgix, the team monitor key company information in real time which is open for all employees to see on large TV dashboards, so they can react to any issues as soon as they arise.

If companies want to get the most out their workforce, building a culture of clear communication and transparency will go a long way. Employees will not only have the right tools to produce their best work, they will also be far more likely to stay on side, and your reputation as a business could begin to precede you too. 

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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