With every set of hands I get a free brain! – OBM from an employee’s perspective

Oh, boy…is it that time again? It feels like I just posted an article last month, and already I am a few months behind on delivering this one!

A problem, right?  Well, yes, I did break my own personal deadline and now that I’m on it I hope I can redeem myself!  But to do so, and in true Open Book Management style, I will share my dilemma with my team to see if someone will help.

Let me explain

What I have learned for sure since my good-intentioned command and control, silo-building, work 18 hours, “why don’t they get it?” days, is that I don’t have to solve every issue by myself. By committing to a system of operating that appeals to and harnesses an employee’s more profound sense of intelligence and universal desire to win, I, the company, our clients, our community, the employees, etc. are in effect getting so much more from the experience.  I’ll quickly relate it to an idea I read about a few years back that stated: 1+1= ALOT! In our landscape world that first “1” might be mowing lawns or laying a paver patio but I am here to tell you the second “1” is what ties the WHY, people’s needs, profits, etc. together and the two combined equals A LOT more than 2!

To prove the point, yesterday, when I realized I was behind on getting this article in, I asked an employee of only four months, Dan Stourac, if he would be interested in helping me write an article about his take on Open Book Management and how Creative Roots operates. His reply was, “Sure, I’d love to.” 

The following is, believe it or not, what he wrote in less than an hour:

“Coming from a history of various work environments and having grown accustomed to the old “What you don’t know won’t hurt you” type leadership, OBM has come as a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel like a cog in a machine but rather someone whose thoughts on improving the company and my success are valued. 

For a few minutes, I tried to think about some logical reasons someone might not try a management system like Open Book, and the only thing I could think of was a possible fear of some kind. A fear that is probably and most likely born from previously held and unsubstantiated deeply-seated beliefs. OBM changes that story.

 It’s hard to initially glamourize and add flare to business numbers and math that (sadly) most would rather not concern themselves with. Sometimes the numbers show you things that you’d rather not everybody see. So who’s problem is it? Yours, and yours alone. If your whole company was educated on how a dollar is made and how each employee impacts wellbeing, it becomes a weight carried by all. It’s our minds that brought us to the problem, which means we need a new mentality to get us out of it.  Like Ryan quotes, “With every pair of hands, I get a free brain.” If anything, leaving your people in the dark is the most obvious representation of business insecurity. Ryan Markewich is somebody who sees it no other way.

Ryan has captured Open Book Management and successfully equipped his teams to understand their place and potential to change the game within the company. Ryan does not operate out of fear. Therefore, neither does his team. In Creative Roots Landscaping, we adopted a saying from The Great Game of Business that basically says, “Shit flows downhill.” Meaning troubles and insecurity start from the top and flow into the ranks of the company. This saying is more of a joke considering the transparency and involvement equips each and every person to spot the shit rolling down the hill before it hits the front line and engages us to do something about it. So collaboratively, we push shit off the hill entirely because we are not afraid to acknowledge sometimes things go astray, but only for as long as we remain ignorant to it. Real talk, manure is the oldest fertilizer in the world. The same goes for business. That timeless principle proves even difficulty is an opportunity for innovation.

Creative Roots shares Open Book Management as an opportunity to keep everybody in reality. You can’t argue facts. When you know the company numbers, for better or for worse, the only conversation is how to move forward. I’ve met plenty of business owners who treat their numbers like a dark secret. The thought of sharing is probably anxiety-inducing at first, sure. But that’s a self-inflicted issue. Sharing the reality of what people are working with is the kindest thing you can do because it translates a sense of trust. Even to the newest person. (The guy writing this)

In addition, when you see the numbers, you can’t unsee them. From the newest perspective, the employee gains a sense of empathy for how intricate and unsure the landscape of running a company can be. Especially in a creative field as diverse as high-end landscaping as the potential for error is massive. It might seem like a blip and a couple of hours to fix a mistake while employees joyfully continue to receive the same wage. We might get a bit disheartened by an error, but understanding the gravity of what an error costs allows the numbers to speak to us. The conversation doesn’t have to sound like a disappointed boss, but more productively like, “Where do you all feel we fell short? What are the focus points to maximize our efficiency next time.” No short-coming goes unnoticed, neither does the success. The company is no longer run by feelings – which are volatile at best – and rooted in a place where everybody plays an integral role.

“What if they don’t care?” you might ask. That’s a genuine question. Some won’t. It sucks, but your key players will reveal themselves and step up to the plate as leaders. Being involved in the open books also allows an opportunity for solution-seeking that no sole-owner could ever dare compete with. If you’re fearful of revealing the reality of some people’s lack of interest, you starve yourself of others’ opportunities to shine and fill the gaps you didn’t know you needed filling. Everybody has blind spots, so a recurring practice to humble ourselves with facts becomes the mental playground for growth that we didn’t know we needed.

Business is our great gamble to add value to our community and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Opening the books is a way of allowing owners/their employees/teams to reveal themselves as leaders in their own respects. Everybody brings something unique to the table, but nobody can add value if they are oblivious to the needs that closed books hide from them. The choice is yours. 

About Me

Through my experiences, I have been fascinated by business and all it offers to improve people’s lives. From working on the shovel, business visioning, and everything in between, to now sharing my experiences through personalized coaching services, my goal is to help other owners work on their business, increase profits, and have more time for themselves while finding enjoyment along the way. To bring the best coaching experience to my clients, I am currently doing my GGOB (Great Game of Business) certification course.

Need Someone To Talk To?

What’s your biggest pain point? Let’s connect to discuss how having me coach you through implementing Open Book Management can change your business for the better. 

To schedule a time to chat with me, visit https://rmark.ca/contact/