The reason Melissa miscalculated (on a calculator) is that she had a number problem. Many people have numeracy problems, with government figure suggesting about a third cannot add three figure numbers.Some people have a natural skill set with numbers, and others struggle and have to try hard. Some are basically innumerate but they don’t need to be. Nor should anyone be comfortable with this. When you don’t know what you are talking about with numbers it’s very apparent. It’s not like talking about marketing strategy or organisational development where even if you don’t know your stuff you can appear to be reasonably clued up for a time, you can’t bluff numbers and metrics. There will be someone present who can estimate that a bread roll order for 1,000 is unlikely to break down into individual costs of £1.64 because they would quickly add a nought and get to £1640. Poor Melissa had no feel for her ineptitude despite having a giant sized serving of self confidence. Alex himself not that confident had to bail her out and such was her own embarrassment that she accused him of having a numbers problem.
Many people have chronic problems with numbers; many were badly taught and hate numbers. I was badly taught and have some fear which makes me work hard to understand but I am always somewhat uneasy though fairly capable. However others believe they can lock themselves away in a little numberless niche where they don’t have to encounter data. This is sad and short sighted. Even if you are HR specialist L&TD or OD specialists you will be required to understand basic numbers and when you are senior specialists the business will expect you to know quite a bit about how it trades and operates. Obviously reward people have to be very capable with numbers, but even employee relations people have to understand stuff like compounding when negotiating pay and the effects of inflation. In any area your budget is dependent on you showing how what you do adds value. Now for some self/team Reflection. Are you a;
MelissaMakes fundamental and damaging errors with numbers because they don’t understand their gaps.Alex Appreciates that he may have a problem or a fear but knows this and makes amends by being careful and precise if a bit slow.LizLoves numbers and takes great pleasure in demonstrating that knowledge and is usually the 'go to' for number-crunching.
More soon on how knowing how a company makes and loses money helps build your commercial and numeracy capability.
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