In a survey conducted by Dan Topf of Management Development International, respondents—a mix of line employees and executives—were asked ten simple questions, such as “What percentage of each dollar the company takes in as sales does it keep as profit?” and “Would customers pay for what you accomplished last week?” The point was to not only get at what the respondents understood about business, but also what they understood about how they contributed to that business. Training contributing editor Holly Dolezalek reported on the results:
The results were mixed, and Topf says that’s exactly the point. All kinds of employees, both higher- and lower-level employees, had answers all over the map for these questions. Some had wildly inaccurate ideas about how much of a company’s sales turn into profits. Others knew what their company’s profit margin was, but had no idea how it was reached; and many said that they believed their company’s strategy would be successful, but that they had no impact on that strategy or on the company’s cash flow.
“The point I wanted to make was that people are responding this way, and it shows something, “ Topf says. “You have a business, and people don’t get it.”
How are we doing at communicating what it is we do and how we determine how well we are doing it? The macro view. When people know where they fit in and what their unique contribution is, they can then move beyond mere employees and become leaders. They can lead from wherever they are in the organization and that will contribute to the bottom line.