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Perception v. Reality: Roadblocks to Transparency and Where to Begin

Jan 30, 2019 by Steve Baker 1 Comment

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What if you could open your books tomorrow without worry or fear? What would it take? In this blog, Great Game of Business Vice President, Steve Baker, addresses common concerns when opening the books and how employee misunderstandings and assumptions can be far more dangerous than business transparency


3 Common Fears:

Q: What if people see my numbers and figure out how much I make?

A: Open-book does not mean sharing every detail. Great Game companies rarely, if ever, share salary information. It’s divisive. It’s distracting. It doesn’t help you teach people business. And frankly, they already think you’re making more than you are.

Q: What if people see how much the company is making, and they want more?

A: They already want more. In fact, you want more, too. Everyone does, and you want them to. You want your team to be ambitious, hungry and wanting more. That’s how you’ll grow and be sustainable over the long haul.

Q: What if the numbers are bad; won’t people run for the hills?

A: Look, most people, (if given the chance) will ask, “What can I do to help?” Opening the books may be the first time in their lives they are treated like adults. Given the facts, people are much better equipped and far more likely to be able to deal with difficult situations.

The Dangers of Assumptions and Misunderstandings

Frankly, it’s hard to make money in business. For some context, Walmart makes just 3 cents on every dollar of sales. The vast majority of businesses hover well under 10. In fact, the median bottom line among companies across 212 industries in the U.S. is just 6.5 cents. 

But how much does the average employee think their company makes? The answer: 36 cents.


How about that for a gap between perception and reality? That is a six-fold gap in awareness between what companies really make and what their employees think they make. What kind of decisions are they making under the assumption you’re making 6 times the profit you really are? If open-book is scary, closed-book is downright terrifying.

The reason this knowledge gap exists is that people are coming to work every day without any information. In a vacuum of information, people fill it with misinformation, rumor & fantasy.

So Where Do I Begin?

How can you open your books tomorrow? There are numerous, awesome approaches we have seen over the last 35 years, but here's one tried and true method: teach your people just how hard it is to make money and generate cash.

Stop the rumors and change the narrative by opening your books and teaching your people how much money your business really makes…and how hard it truly is.


Close the knowledge gap by teaching your employees the financials in our financial literacy eLearning module.

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Topics: Transparency

Steve Baker
Written by Steve Baker

Steve Baker is the Vice President of The Great Game of Business, Inc., a division of employee-owned SRC Holdings Corporation. Known for his high-energy and engaging message, Steve has become a top-rated and sought after speaker, author, and coach on topics of open-book management, strategy and execution, leadership and employee engagement. Steve co-wrote the update of the best-selling book, The Great Game of Business 20th Anniversary Edition. His audiences range from Harvard to the Department of Defense. He also served on the Board of the National Center for Employee Ownership as well as the Steering Committee for SRC’s Ownership Culture Initiative. Steve is a career marketing and branding professional and is an award-winning designer. He lives in Springfield, Missouri with his trophy wife, JoAnn, and his three above-average children.


About The Great Game of Business

Our approach to running a company was developed to help close one of the biggest gaps in business: the gap between managers and employees. We call our open-book approach The Great Game of Business. What lies at the heart of The Game is a very simple proposition: The best, most efficient, most profitable way to operate a business is to give everybody in the company a voice in saying how the company is run and a stake in the outcome. Let us teach you how to develop a culture of ownership, where employees think, act and feel like owners.