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4 things you need to know about shifting your employees from a ‘cost’ to ‘revenue’ mentality


The “daily grind” is a somewhat negative phrase, and whether your employees are happy or not, chances are they can relate to it in some way. The same job day after day can get a little old for anyone — especially if it’s unclear how his or her work is providing value to the company.

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That’s why it’s critical to empower employees at every level of your company with open communication and a strong understanding of business analytics. By helping them see exactly where their work fits into the company’s broader success through concrete data, you’ll foster a “revenue center” mindset rather than a “cost center” one.

The breakdown

With a revenue-center mindset, employees will feel empowered to do their jobs to the best of their abilities to increase the company’s bottom line. What’s more, when employees understand how their work fits into the bigger picture, they’ll be committed to driving the firm’s success every day.

On the other hand, with a cost-center mindset, employees may be doing their job, but they’re not properly engaged and are probably only doing the minimum. To them, their job is just that — a job — and it’s not something they feel a personal sense of ownership for. This mentality can end up costing your company, whether that’s in minor ways like a few missed emails or through major missteps that cost your company a client.

To promote a revenue-center mindset, keep these four things in mind:

1. Foster a sense of ownership

Give employees a fuller understanding of how your company is performing at every level, and they’ll realize how every action they make contributes to profits. But don’t simply tell them; show them. You can have them manually enter performance metrics themselves or write their own reports. This will hold them accountable for their individual performance and keep them focused on the quality of their work.

It can even lead to better products and services. When product ideation people understand the data surrounding their creations, for example, they’ll feel motivated to improve and create something that generates even more revenue.

2. Manage expectations

Help your employees understand what kind of behaviors — whether on their part or by customers — are actually converting into sales or success. That way, they know exactly which actions they should repeat to develop a rhythm of success.

Forbes, for example, is so data-focused that it compensates writers based on how well their articles perform. Rewarding high performers and weeding out weaker team members will help you effectively build, mold, and hire talent.

3. Lead by example

Employees need to know this isn’t just a top-down directive; it’s also something their managers and leaders value, so set aside time to review data with employees.

Take a note from Walmart, which holds internal analytics conferences every year. It may seem tedious, but creating a greater sense of what the data is saying will empower both you and your employees, boosting everyone’s performance.

4. Generate a culture of productivity

It should be clear to employees that productivity is everyone’s responsibility. Often, companies get so caught up in the strategy that they treat methodology, technology, implementation, and adoption as secondary realms. It’s important to create a balance among all these facets in terms of how data is used to make decisions and drive performance across departments.

Here’s how analytics applies to four different departments within a business:

  • HR: Review how each employee’s performance led to added revenue. Did each new hire translate to more company success?
  • Sales: Ask how each sale contributed to the bottom line. Were there certain clients who diminished productivity that a salesperson should be aware of?
  • Financials: How much profit did each employee help generate for the company based on monitoring the company’s financials and noting improvement areas?
  • Supply chain: Was every order worth the money? Think through potential adjustments that could improve the bottom line.

When employees have a clearer understanding of how their contributions affect the company, it leads to better ideation, better products and services, and better business — in short, a revenue-center mindset. Ground this education in a respect for data-driven processes, and give regular rewards and incentives that correspond to metrics to keep employees engaged and motivated.

When everyone is watching the numbers, after all, people come up with better ideas, and day-to-day tasks gain new meaning beyond the grind.

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