Cadet very proudly shares profits with its employees. In 2012 when CFO and Vice President of Operations, LeAnn Reader, was asked to share with the organization how much profit sharing the employees could expect, she struggled with the right way to communicate this information across all departments.
As with any business, Cadet continually looks to improve costs and efficiencies while also trying to increase revenue. The seasonal nature of our business adds additional challenges to maintaining profitability throughout the year, and as a result, a challenge to forecast with confidence the level of profit sharing bonuses our employees might receive.
There is no question that open communication and transparency are staples of the Cadet culture. Another staple of the culture is our diversity. With a wide range of backgrounds, nationalities and languages among our employees, this diversity makes it critical to communicate certain topics, especially those of a financial nature, in a way that everyone can properly understand.
With that in mind, LeAnn played around with some different types of charts and graphs to illustrate how our profit sharing works, but nothing she came up with felt like it would connect with our employees the way she wanted it to. And then, in a moment of sheer brilliance, she created a visual that everyone in the entire organization would understand: The Teacup.
She explained that early in the year our business is pouring tea into an upside down teacup. That tea is spilling over to fund the day to day operations of our business. Our first goal through the year has to be to get The Teacup turned right side up. Once the Teacup flips, some of the tea can now start to be poured into the cup – the profit sharing pool. And, the sooner we are able to get it right side up, the better chance we have to fill The Teacup to the brim – maximize profits.
LeAnn saw eyes light up, faces smile and heads nod. She knew instantly that people got it. But what was surprising was the level to which employees began to rally around the idea of The Teacup. All throughout 2013 employees would come up to her and ask, “Has the Teacup flipped?” or “How full is the Teacup?”
The company has completely embraced the idea of The Teacup and it has given LeAnn a way to provide the transparency that our culture has come to rely on, even with this complex topic. It has also given employees at every level something to strive toward every day in their jobs, because we all know that with responsible cost containment, the elimination of wasteful steps in our processes, and every incremental revenue dollar earned, we add tea to The Teacup.
Here’s a (rough) clip of LeAnn sharing good news at our all employee meeting. Stay through to the end to watch the infamous “money dance”.
“It takes all of us doing our best to make the tea.”