Every time I go to the eye doctor, I’m faced with the same situation. I know there’s a big “E” at the top of the eye chart. Not because I can see it clearly, but because I’ve memorized it. I always laugh that if they changed it, then I wouldn’t be able to read anything on the chart.
Today’s Time Well Spent from our friends at Kronos reminded me of my annual eye doctor visits. Just because you can see the numbers, or you’ve memorized them, doesn’t mean you understand them. It’s important for us to gain that additional level of comprehension.
Include education in onboarding. One of the best onboarding experiences I’ve ever had included meeting with the controller to learn how to read the company’s financial documents. Not only did we discuss the documents, but he spent time talking about what the organization focuses on (i.e. the specific line items). He shared information about what took place at the monthly financial review meeting and encouraged me to participate.
Ask questions. If we don’t understand something about the financials (or any document that the company produces), then ask. In many cases, these documents are tied to our personal goals (and possibly our bonus structure). Which means the organization finds the information necessary for success. I’ve always found that if I didn’t understand the information, someone else didn’t understand it either.
Discuss reports before deciding on them. I remember going to regular finance meetings where the controller would just launch into a discussion about action steps without reviewing the documents. He assumed that everyone had read the information (which they had). But reading the information and discussing it were two different things. Once he started adding a short discussion before taking action steps, the quality of the conversation improved.
Employees at every level of the organization need data and information to successfully do their work. But seeing the information and being able to analyze it are two different things. Organizations should think about how they can build data education into onboarding, training, and regular meetings so employees are able to become better critical thinkers.12