Employees, especially Millennials, value transparency. In a day when most people say they no longer trust corporations and are much more willing to jump ship, your leadership team needs to do all you can to build bonds of trust and communication with your staff. This is especially true in regards to money and finances, subjects that often come with a lot of emotional strings attached.
Here at ILSA, we practice financial transparency with our weekly Money Huddle. Every Tuesday afternoon at 3:00, our entire team comes together to see exactly what progress each team and department has made toward meeting their financial goals. We celebrate success and offer encouragement as needed. It keeps all of us focused on what’s essential.
Why We Huddle
The practice started in 2010, just as the Great Recession finally percolated its way into the insurance industry. A huge number of our clients merged, downsized or simply closed their agencies. Others reluctantly brought compliance back in-house to save money. Still other clients asked for steep discounts so they could afford to ILSA’s services. All-in-all, 70% of our income disappeared almost overnight!
Our management team was reading Jack Stack’s The Great Game of Business together. With uncertainties and tensions (understandably) running high within our company, it seemed the perfect time to implement the kind of financial transparency Stack advocates.
The results couldn’t have been better. Our entire team came together to create new financial goals and brainstorm ways to meet them. Everyone understood why we were being asked to tighten our belts. It became a shared experience that only strengthened our bonds as a team and as ILSA family.
How We Huddle
Every company’s needs and goals are different, but here’s what we share in our ILSA Money Huddle.
- Announcements – At the beginning of the Huddle, our General Manager shares an overview of recent company accomplishments and upcoming initiatives. Managers, supervisors and other employees can also share business-related announcements. (Social announcements are handled differently, see below.)
- Our Annual Financial Goal – Every week our whole team sees our long-term goal. It keeps us focused on where we want to be.
- Progress Toward Weekly Goals – Each production department shares its total revenue generated for the past week and what percentage it represents of their weekly goal. (The licensing and compliance business has distinct “busy” and “slow” seasons, and our weekly goals are weighted to reflect this.)
- Departments’ Progress Toward Annual Goals – Each production department also has its own annual revenue goal. Each week, they share their progress toward that goal, reflected as a percentage.
- Client Turnover – No matter how high your client satisfaction, every business needs a healthy pipeline of new clients. Each week we share how many new clients have joined our services in the previous week and how many new clients we have year-to-date. We also share how many clients have left our service, to ensure that we have a net growth.
- New Projects in the Production Pipeline – Each week we also share details about our new projects: how many agents and individuals each new client brings to our service, and how many client proposals are prepared and how many are approved and tasked. These last two items include the anticipated revenue values of the projects.
- Accounts Receivable and Payable – Our outstanding Accounting Department lets us know how far under our operations budget we are, both for the month and for the year to date. We also share the percentage of receivables collected month to date.
- Credit Memos – While we strive for 100% accuracy in the applications and filings we prepare and submit on behalf of our clients, if there is a mistake on ILSA’s part, we let the entire team know about it and its financial impact on our team as a whole.
- Company Progress Toward Our Annual Goal – This is the number everyone is waiting for – our total sales year to date! ILSA offers a generous bonus program, so we also share the bonus tier that our sales total take us to. We finish off with how much more in sales we need to reach the next bonus tier and how long we have to achieve that goal.
Money Huddle was intended to be a brief discussion of the company’s financial status – no more than fifteen minutes in length. A representative from each department would stand up, read their numbers, and sit down. Over time, though, more and more “numbers” were added to the reports. Motivational videos, recognition of birthdays and company anniversaries, discussions of corporate and community events all joined the agenda. Our brief financial meeting was snowballing into something else entirely! Worst of all, the impact of our numbers on our team was being diluted.
One of our Marketing Team came up with a solution. Now, rather than reading the numbers, we share them in custom video presentations. All the “social announcements” – community events, personal and corporate charitable events, reminders of upcoming conferences and other corporate travel, company-wide training and social events, birthdays, anniversaries and new hires –appear in a separate video that plays in a loop as employees arrive in the auditorium and take their seats. The loop repeats once more after everyone is seated.
Announcements from the Leadership Team come next.
Then the “numbers” video plays. Only the information essential to an understanding of the company’s financial status, and each team’s contribution to it, is included. Departments are welcome (and encouraged) to track other milestones, but these are shared in department meetings or by email. There’s still plenty of time to cheer for successes, but we keep moving.
A final word of encouragement, and we’re back to work!
Do You Huddle (or Whatever You Call It)?
If so, let us know how you do it. We’re always on the lookout for ideas to make our meetings more efficient and more meaningful for our team.
And speaking of other ideas, here are a few other articles about transparency that you might enjoy: