Information Flows

Traditionally, the information flow goes from top to bottom, from directors to staff. The idea is that the more sensitive or valuable the material is, the less it’s shared around the team. But the problem in this approach is that the ground level might be left with filtered and carefully presented info, without the often needed background knowledge of the matter. This can breed distrust between the layers and a question arises: What are they not telling us?

In Teal bars, the people are trusted with the good and the bad news – even the sensitive ones. This includes salaries, sales data, events, collaborations, targets and budgets. Everyone has access to all the information at the same time to ensure the team is on the same page when entering a shift. Or on a wider scale, when entering a week or a season. Problems and tough times should not be hidden from the staff. Instead, they should be shared to keep everyone on the same page about realities and on the search for a solution.

Three reasons, why self-managing teams/bars need to follow this practice:

  1. Since the self-managing teams are making their own decision, instead of a boss above them, they need all the available information to make the best possible decisions at the time
  2. Filtered and hidden information creates suspicions, which is toxic for the team trust
  3. When some know more than others, the chance for harmful, informal hierarchies appearing in the bar rises

To ensure everyone in the venue has the correct information at all times, a real time intranet (Slack, Teams, etc.) is a great way to publish and to retrieve materials, when needed. WhatsApp and Messenger are quite common messaging platforms as we all know, but I endorse using a different (and more professional) platform for work, since they can be muted easily and you don’t accidentally see a work chat while messaging your friends.

A good practice is to organize the typical meetings, including quarterly results, annual reports, surveys and transition periods, in a way, where the information is not simply shared in a top-down manner, but through conversations and arguments. Let everyone be part of the meeting in a proactive way. Another good practice is to have particular meetings where everyone are present and encouraged to create discussion and to debate.

These all-hands meetings can go in many directions. The conversation flow and the questions that come up can lead the meeting into appraisal or venting out of frustration, not just a simple information exchange. Moreover, these moments are important in testing and reaffirming the bars values and trust levels. It’s essential to take this chance, in order to embrace and revisit the basic assumptions and to strengthen the trust of the community.

It’s good to remember that this type of information flow can create anxiety among the whole team, since basically everyone knows about the ups and downs of the finances and other metrics. Metrics, that have traditionally been only the CEO’s headache. Teal organizations acknowledge and can handle these issues, by having a supportive atmosphere as well as mindful and healthy procedures in place. Knowing where they actually stand, instead of having a false sense of safety, can ease the staffs anxiety as well.

Something to think about…

Could it be possible, that everything that is shared among the staff, would be shared with the guests as well? What is the point of being open about your venues purpose and ideology, if you are scared to show the public how you got there? A total transparency about procedures, mistakes and future ideas, compared to the polished image, could lead to an even stronger relationship with the guests. A relationship, where the ego is put aside and the guests can share their thoughts and improvement ideas to the company through social media or other means. Maybe every social media photo you publish doesn’t have to be polished and run through the PR department?

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Mika Ammunét Written by:

Bar Manager, Future Bar Owner

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