If a government wants to alienate its population, one of the best ways is to create a lack of predictability. Thus, the ideal party member Tom Parsons ends up in jail (the Ministry of Love) in 1984. Or, you can prepare the renovation of your home perfectly, only to find you have to stop it because you missed a small piece of the law. At work, you can work on a project for months until it gets cancelled. It’s a good way to become alienated from the company you’re working for.
When people understand what happens, they get less frustrated. When the context makes sense, they can see that hard decisions need to be made. That’s why I propose to open up your finances.
Do you have an overview of the financial side for every running project? If not, wouldn’t it be helpful for yourself to make decisions? In software companies, a start could be to show all the sales versus the hours spent developing new features. Even a simplistic overview does the job: the point is relative comparisons, not absolutes. If this project only has about €100K pipeline, why should I spend more time on it than on this €500K one? And the discussion can start.
Another discussion that’s always interesting to have, is about salaries. There are companies who have completely transparent salary schemes (Buffer and Mondragon are just two). “Being open and transparent about how we compensate our team breeds trust amongst all people involved,” says the CMO of Buffer about it. I think it’s at least an idea worth of consideration for most startups.
Why wouldn’t you show people where the money went? If most was going to smart investments, nobody would protest. If a certain part was obscure but had a good explanation, no problems. But if many in the organisation agreed that a certain expenditure was over the top, then the organisation could benefit from reviewing that expense. Be it a project, a salary, or another expense. Let the discussion start in the open. Otherwise, the same discussion will still be held as gossip at the coffee machine.