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Recently I have been interviewing executives who have either created exceptionally high performing cultures, or who have achieved significant cultural change, especially around deeply embedded learnt behaviours.

In one discussion the Managing Director was contrasting two different experiences she had had.

The first, when working for another organisation she had no exposure to the finances, financial performance, revenue, profitability or even sales performance and costs of the organisation.  The organisational culture was not to share such information with their staff.

In contrast, now working with the family business her father’s approach, with all his staff, was to expose all the financial information monthly to the whole team.  This is what we have sold, this is our overheads, this is when we are actually making a contribution or profit each month.  This went further, the team taking orders could see , for each order, its revenue, margin and contribution.  They had complete visibility of the contribution they were making and how this covered overheads and contributed to overall company profits.

Interestingly,this latter situation is not an isolated case.  The more I look at the behaviour of such high performing executives and the characteristics inside high performing organisations I keep coming up against this same thing: information being shared and exposed to encourage a culture of thinking about performance and what matters to the organisation .  In the same week I came across two other examples.   Since then I am coming across more and more.

What characterises the different mindsets of the two organisations.  The first approach, keeping everyone in the dark we characterised as “merely being an employee in an organisation”.  You are here to do a job.  get on with it.  You don’t need to know this sort of thing.  it is not in your pay grade.

The second approach is more “You are a person in a business”.  perhaps we could go further, “You are a person contributing to a business”.

The first way of thinking restrict and blocks informed decision making.  The way of thinking about your people helps create informed decision makers and encourages appropriate behaviour.

Isn’t it interesting how this statement about your people changes how you think about them.  If you want to create a culture of performance, which would you choose?

So two thoughts to finish with:

1) How are you treated in your organisation?  What behaviour does that encourage?

2) How are you treating your staff (people or employees)?  What behaviour are you encouraging?