Help Your Team To Understand

May 14, 2014 — 24 Comments
Help Your Team To Understand | Joseph Lalonde

When you’re in a position of leadership, you know there are actions happening behind the scenes. The rest of your team is oblivious to these happenings.

Unfortunately, when they’re happening in secret, your team doesn’t understand the reasons you’re making the choices you’re making.

This may lead to you being viewed as a bad leader. What you need to do is to help your team to understand what’s happening.

In a recent post about bad leadership, I mentioned a couple of things you may be doing that causes your team to think you’re leading poorly. This post is a great example of why you need to help your team understand the inner workings of the business.

You don’t have to go into the deep details but you should at least explain a few key points of the business to your team. This can prevent a lot of grief and agony.

What should you help your team understand?

Basic Financials – There’s a good chance your team doesn’t understand the basic financials of the business. As a leader, you can step forward and explain why your business makes the financial decisions it does.

Explain why one month of bad sales and one month of good sales doesn’t let the company break even. In business it’s not -1 plus +1 = breakeven. Lines of credit have to be paid back. Interest has to be recouped by the banks. There may even be investors that are looking for a piece of the pie.

There’s also the company vehicles that seem like an extravagant waste of money. Yet these expenses create special tax incentives that help keep the business afloat.

The common employee won’t realize these things are happening. Don’t keep them in the dark. Help your team understand the financials of the business.

Bonuses and Parties – What employee doesn’t want to see a big Christmas bonus come across his or her desk? Think back to the bonus check freakout Clark Griswold had in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Past experience had told Clark he was going to receive a fat bonus. Only it didn’t happen.

There was no notice that the same type of bonus wasn’t going to be given. And it was a huge letdown for Clark Griswold.

Share with your team that bonuses and Christmas parties aren’t standard for the business. They’re perks that happen when the business does well. But they can only happen when business is well.

Being open and honest about the health of the business will help set your employees’ expectations. They’ll also be more understanding when something doesn’t happen.

Workings Of Leadership – It’s easy to sit back as an employee and think you know what happens within the ranks of leadership. I mean, they see you in your office on the phone or having lunch parties with clients.

Everything looks so simple.

As a leader, you know that’s not the truth. There’s a lot of hard work in leadership.

Help them understand the workings of leadership.

When you decide it’s time to help your team understand, you’ll discover a team that’s more understanding. They’ll feel they have a larger part in the company because you opened up to them and shared some of the vaunted secrets too many leaders are afraid to share.

Don’t be one of those leaders. Learn what your team needs to understand and work on a plan to help them understand.

Question: What are you doing to help your team understand the inner workings of your business? Do you think working a bit harder at explaining the workings of the company could help team morale? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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  • http://www.brandongerard.net/ Brandon Gerard

    Transparency. I am finding it is key to open up to my team and go over the topics you discussed above. It opens up doors for the back and forth conversation that many employees are looking for.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s the key Brandon. When we’re willing to be open, teams tend to work better.

    • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

      Nice and so true.

  • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

    So true Joe. I love talking my team through the finances of the business. It really helps! In the Pizza business food and labor costs are your make and break items. Showing the crew how little 1 oz of cheese is and how much that loses the company over a year always gets there attention more then shouting put the right amount of toppings on! Great post:)

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Great Zech! It’s always interesting to see the inner-workings and what really affects the bottom line. Many times it’s not what we think.

      You mentioned you get their attention after showing them the difference in toppings make. Do you see that it sticks with them?

      • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

        Yes it does its about 50000 a year if we overportion by 1oz a pizza. Straight out of the bottom line. That number gets there attention.

        • http://pioneeroutfitters.com/AlaskaChickBlog/ Amber-Lee Dibble

          Hey! That’s my pizza! LOL

          • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

            Over portion. You get what you pay for. Haha.

            • http://pioneeroutfitters.com/AlaskaChickBlog/ Amber-Lee Dibble

              Oh sure! LOL, ya know I worked at the base Pizza Hut for a while while I was serving in the USN ~ briefly because I quit when the boss threw a pizza at a guy (weird). It was quite the learning experience.

              • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

                Wow!

        • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

          That’s insane!

  • http://www.jonstallings.com/ Jon Stallings

    At my church we are exposing our Associate Pastor to a variety of areas in the ministry that is beyond their area. Just last night they were attending a Church Council / Business meeting.

    Your points are also key for larger organizations. It is easy for teams to be completely cut off from the rest of the company. They may know how to do their job but they don’t have a clue of how they impact the rest of the company.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Love the fact that your church is doing that for the Associate Pastor. It can truly be eye-opening!

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Don’t have a team but this would be gold if I did.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Thanks Kimanzi! Glad it rings true with you even if you don’t have a team.

      • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

        Bam!

  • http://pioneeroutfitters.com/AlaskaChickBlog/ Amber-Lee Dibble

    This is a great post, Joe, especially for those new to leadership. I say new- because as we come up sometimes we are indoctrinated into “private business” too. I agree completely with you and what your post says. It really DOES help your team- your employees to know what is happening- maybe not all the details as you say- but the important stuff coming down the line. What I have also seen/experienced is that a good employee/team member is going to be more invested – emotionally, professionally, intellectually- feeling more needed even, when they know something may be threatening the business. (I’m going to see if I missed your Bad Leader post now! LOL)

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Amber-Lee, it’s good to know others are getting this idea as well. Teams need more information than what they’re being given. It’s all about getting the buy-in and making them feel like they’re really a part of the team.

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    This is solid advice, Joe. My boss has done an excellent job of this for me. The information prepares me for my future increased responsibilities, and it endears me more and more to the organization.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Awesome Jon. Glad to see other leaders are giving out the information to help team members understand.

      You said this helps endear your to the organization. Why do you think that is?

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

        It helps me to avoid the feeling of being in the dark.

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    Great tips here, often the front line people can’t see behind the scenes. If we show them behind the scenes about the functions of the organization they are more likely to follow us to where we are going.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s exactly what I was going for Dan!

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