“You had better conquer those fears! Because the power of the information to inform, educate, and motivate your people is more powerful than any negative that could come from it.”
Back in my undergraduate business college days, I remember hearing a story illustrating the power of information as a motivator. I can’t recall any of the details, but the basic idea was that one shift in a factory would write down the number of widgets they produced on the factory floor for the next shift of workers to see. Then that second shift would write down their production for the first shift to see.
The numbers kept going up and up.
People like to know how they are doing. And they are naturally competitive with each other. So sharing the numbers – as the workers did with each other without management telling them to do so – was a motivator.
How can we employ this in an AEC firm, you may ask? Easily.
Try sharing monthly revenue goals versus actual revenue achieved, unit-by-unit. Sales of new work, profits, multipliers, utilization, revenue factor, proposals made, number of jobs won, staff turnover rate, and more are important numbers you can track and report on. And why not share this information with every single employee? They need to know. And they may actually change their behavior as a result.
Of course, it might be nice to tie incentive compensation to specific numbers that are shared with everyone, but the truth is it may not be necessary. The numbers are actually more important than the cash.
What keeps firm owners from sharing this kind of information with their employees? Mostly it is fear. Fear the employees will think they are doing so well that they should be paid more. Fear that the employees won’t understand the inherent ups and downs of various units in the firm and think that one or the other isn’t carrying their weight at some point in time. And fear that if the firm isn’t doing well, the employees will jump ship.
You had better conquer those fears! Because the power of the information to inform, educate, and motivate your people is more powerful than any negative that could come from it.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.