CEO Blog: Living by the numbers

The last few weeks and months have seen a new interest and focus from the public on the numbers that are framing our everyday lives.

In addition to daily updates on death and infection rates; there are the 5 tests the Government is using to assess progress; it’s been 4 months since the advent of the coronavirus in the UK; we are now all familiar with the regular 3 presenters of the daily Government press conference; we have concluded 2 terms of ‘lock-down’; and the world awaits the results of the search for 1 vaccine.

Never have data and facts been more important as they guide and influence the behaviours of an entire population. However, clarity, consistency and accuracy of the facts is essential, if trust is to be built and confidence secured.

The power of sharing information, including the financial numbers, is something that employee owned businesses understand well; most share details of turnover, costs, sales and profit with their employee owners on a regular basis. When individuals are aware of the facts, and understand financial performance data, they respond appropriately, and in the case of businesses, this means employee behaviour aligned to strategic direction, with individuals able to exert their effort and focus appropriately and proportionately.

This transparency in employee owned businesses does not only happen during difficult times, it is part of everyday behaviour, with openness underpinning the values of shared influence and ownership. This was highlighted well last week during our weekly EOA Better Together webinar, where we focused on trust and transparency during a crisis.

Each of the businesses involved confirmed that their response to the crisis has been underpinned by values of sharing information, influence and reward, something that has been fundamental in creating the trust required to steer their businesses more effectively through the crisis.
However, the need to innovate and find new ways of sharing information has been a challenge. So the use of WhatsApp groups to stay connected, online meetings to manage operations and regular ‘welfare’ calls to furloughed colleagues are now the new norm, in addition to more regular reviews of cash, sales and costs, a topic which we covered in a previous EOA webinar.

As the UK continues to face the challenge of coronavirus head on, and communities, businesses and their supply chains choose collaboration over competition, there is much for the wider UK business community to learn from the employee owned sector, where being guided by the numbers is a natural thing to do.