Open Book Management was a brand-new concept to me just four months ago. I hopped on the ZingTrain in October 2018 as the next-generation ZingTrain Concierge, a position responsible for coordinating ZingTrain's public seminars and workshops here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In addition to that, I report on, forecast and track ZingTrain’s public sales numbers at our weekly huddle. (What is a huddle?, you may ask. Learn all about huddles here!)
On Day 3 of my new job, I sat in on my first huddle. On Day 9, I helped update and forecast sales numbers and on Day 10, I officially reported out to all of ZingTrain on our public seminar and workshop sales for the first-time-ever in my second-ever huddle.
I have now attended eighteen huddles and have learned a LOT! Diving head first into an Open Book business has been an extraordinary employee experience. While definitely a cultural shift from my previous employers, it now feels like a no-brainer approach to running a business.
And here’s why!
Employees have a shared vision of success.
At Zingerman’s, we measure success through our three bottom-lines – great food, great service, and great finance. Each year, all employees are encouraged to participate in defining what success looks like for the following year. That definition turns into an annual plan that guides conversation and business decisions throughout the year. When all employees have a shared vision of what success looks like, it’s a lot easier to achieve it.
As a business owner, being inclusive and collaborative with your staff when defining “success” can feel very vulnerable, BUT! Who better to collaborate with? Employees are the very people who can most help the company achieve that success. And having more perspectives at the table = better ideas = better results.
Employees are empowered to think like business owners.
Open Book Management gives employees - from the top managers to the front-liners - the tools, education, and data they need to make business decisions every day that will help the company succeed. When they can easily see how their actions affect the business’ bottom line(s), they are empowered to take responsibility and act in ways that will positively impact those bottom lines.
Furthermore, here at Zingerman's, we discuss the progress being made toward our annual plans every week at our huddles. This consistency and structure gives employees assurance that their ideas will actually be heard and they more often than not become more willing to engage in the conversation. Open Book is NOT a spectator sport. It only works when people understand the rules and are empowered to participate.
Employees have fun.
It’s more fun, because we’re all on the same team! We speak the same language so it’s easier to celebrate wins together and strategize how to get out of the inevitable slumps. Our huddles have a set agenda, allowing us to be direct about our finances and use our time together productively. Really, we've found that work is just more interesting when you know the big picture and are playing towards/energized around a common goal.
When the company wins, employees win.
At its essence, Open Book Management is a 12-month long game we play against ourselves. And when we win that game, we reward ourselves through gain sharing - paying out a percentage of the extra money we make to the entire team - a huge motivator! Knowing there is a financial incentive to beat our annual plan keeps employees engaged and striving!