Should you be using open-book management?

Is it time for a management overhaul in your workplace? HRD Singapore outlines the key steps to making open-book management work for your company.

Should you be using open-book management?
According to Gallup, employee engagement is hovering at 13% globally – perhaps this is one of the drivers behind the growing popularity of open-book management (OBM) in popularity in recent years.

The concept was established in 1983 by Jack Stack, who was tasked with turning around a dying division of International Harvester and saving 119 jobs. Stack shared the company’s financials with employees and taught them the ‘rules’ of business. This approach became known as the Great Game of Business.

One company to have adopted this approach more recently is O’Connells OBM, a Brisbane based accounting practice.

At its core, the management style is about having a positive impact on the lives of its team by engaging, educating and empowering them to feel like business owners. O’Connells’ technique has allegedly provided everyone in the firm’s office with a “story and purpose behind why they’re there”.

One of the firm’s employees claimed that businesses that incorporate OBM can help employees create and build a sense of purpose by including them in developing and owning the company’s vision and values.

“They take a sense of fulfilment home every night,” she said.

Here’s how you can make OBM work for your business:

1. Know and teach the rules

All team members are taught to understand what success looks like for the business – whether that’s education on how to read the financial statement, what target are critical to the business and how they are influenced, or how different team members contribute to the company’s success.

2. Follow the action and keep score

Once team members know and understand the different elements of the business, scoreboards and continual team meeting or communications keep track of progress, provide motivation and increase accountability.

3. Provide a stake in the outcome

There has to be some type of intrinsic motivation to engage people in the success of the business. This could be in the form of an Employee Share Ownership Plan, a team-based bonus or reward system tied to your targets, or smaller rewards and celebrations for reaching milestones or focus goals. 

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