Company Culture


Transparency: Effective Communication in the Modern-Day Workplace

Dania Buchanan
Head of SmartVault Global


As an accounting professional, you provide financial transparency to your clients, but how do you rate yourself on giving this level of visibility to employees in your practice? You will have more success when your team see themselves as partners in the business rather than hired hands.

Three ways your business will thrive with more open communication

1. Develop a culture built on trust and empowerment.
This is ground zero. SmartVault Director of Sales, Ivy Donnie, has a saying ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. Of course, you won’t get very far if you haven’t defined your basic strategy (value of your product or service for a specific audience). But you’ll go farther faster if you have fostered a culture where you have a motivated team working towards the same goals and taking action to do what’s best for the company’s success. Employees who know and understand their company’s target metrics can generate better ideas, test possible solutions, and actively solve issues together.

2. Recruit & retain rock stars.
If you are fortunate enough to find yourself among smart, creative problem solvers – give them the problems to solve! When you empower your team with the right information and give them the end goal rather than the instruction on how to get there, you are communicating the trust you have in your team to achieve the goal. This removes dependence on you for guidance and nurtures professional and personal growth across your team. The result will leave your team feeling inspired to perform at their best because they experience the success of their efforts.

3. Enable better and faster decision making.
Having access to the right information with the right frequency provides insights that help answer key business questions like ‘How can I improve client service?’ Whether you run a small practice or a large multi-national firm, data should be at the center of your decision-making process. Adopt a data-drives-decision culture by making data accessible, accurate and simple to consume.


Five tips to jumpstart your internal communication strategy and inspire your team

1. Define your key performance indicators (KPIs), and a plan to share them with your team.
Measure what matters. When it comes to KPI’s, the fewer you’re tracking, the better you’re likely to track them. It’s also important to explain each KPI and why it’s important to the business.

At SmartVault, one of the KPIs we track as a measure of business efficiency is LTV:CAC ratio. The LTV (lifetime value of a customer) should be at least 3x the CAC (what it costs to acquire a new customer). When we started socializing this with the team, we used an analogy ‘if we spend $1 in sales and marketing, we should expect to get $3 back’. This is a simple framework to understand the revenue expectation that comes from additional investment.

2. Create simple visuals to reduce noise and get clear takeaways from the data.
These days, it is likely that your financial or CRM platform can generate beautiful charts and gauges – maybe even a dashboard-view of your key business metrics. Even if you are tracking data in Excel (that’s OK too), it’s easy to convert numeric data into a simple visual. Invest the time in presenting the data simply to foster greater understanding.

3. Make information accessible to your team – real-time should be the ultimate goal.
This step can be challenging, but it’s worth investing time to solve for this. A team member who understands what the goal for client retention is, and is notified real-time when a client leaves, has a much better understanding of the business impact, and could feel more empowered to make changes to prevent further client attrition.

At SmartVault, we have dashboards that update in real-time to track progress against our KPIs. These are accessible by everyone in the company and we’ve found that it fosters a very collaborative environment – where problems (and solutions) are discussed on a daily basis to try and get the best outcomes.

4. Review business goals and performance verbally to tell the story behind the numbers.
Even if you’ve mastered a clear concise set of business goals, and you have a fabulous dashboard that employees can check in real-time, you still need to discuss the outcomes. The data gives you a view of what happened, but it’s important that you and your team understand the why.

At SmartVault, we host a monthly all-hands session to review progress to date in detail – and we usually bring in food (breakfast tacos guarantee a full-house)!  We are very transparent about where we’ve had success and misses. This is a learning environment where employees are empowered to discuss and ask questions.

5. Above all else, trust and empower your team.
The return will be that you have higher performers who have greater motivation to achieve results – and from there, great things happen.


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