Open Books: You Gotta Have a Gimmick
Company finances shouldn't bore your employees -- their livelihood depends on those numbers. Once you get them to understand that, financials may take on a pure fascination. But first you need a hook. At Wisconsin Label, Terry Fulwiler asked employees to enact the roles of various costs, then handed out play money to dramatize the balance sheet. (See "A Company of Businesspeople," April 1993, [Article link].) And Chuck Mayhew at Foldcraft Furniture uses a cookie recipe as a metaphor for purchasing, production, and sales. (See "Like Cookie, Like Company," this column, May, [Article link].)
Here's another idea:
"We had passed out financial statements and explained them every month for two years," says Ron Eardley, former president of Image National, a sign manufacturer based in Boise. "But some employees failed to grasp the basics." So at a recent company meeting Eardley used a giant dollar to illustrate the company's revenues.
Eardley had figured the proportions for all costs of sales and inscribed them on the back. As his chief financial officer enumerated those costs, Eardley cut off portions off the dollar bill with giant scissors. "That impressed them more than any class," he says. "They realized the money doesn't just go into the owner's pockets."* * *