Creating employee friendly processes... link to engagement
IS CREATING EMPLOYEE FRIENDLY POLICIES, PROCESSES and PROCEDURES the LINK TO TRUE
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT AND EMPOWERMENT?
Engagement and empowerment continue to lead business articles, stories and headlines. Many
great organizations have found ways to create amazingly empowered cultures, employees,
teams, and leaders. Yet most organizations still struggle with the concept. This is a thoughtful
article about finding true organizational empowerment. It’s about providing a link between the
organization and the employees. How we can find a happy balance between successful profits
and engaged, empowered employees.
Anyone in leadership knows that leadership is about motivating, inspiring, and empowering
your people to do their best work and allowing them to be their best selves. Allowing them to
be their best selves will better meet your organizational goals. Leadership is also about getting
the work completed in the most efficient and effective way possible so that your organization
will thrive. You all have a stake in your company thriving and your job depends on how well
your company thrives and how successful your employees are. I believe we all are motivated
internally to drive the success of the organization so that we can continue and even enjoy our
work. Yet studies show that most employees are still dis-engaged. Some employees may have
just gotten off the track, but many can be brought back onto the tracks and find happiness in
contributing to the organization.
So let’s look back at an earlier sentence and expound upon it. “Anyone in leadership knows that
leadership is about motivating, inspiring, and empowering your people to do their best work”.
How as leaders do we accomplish this? Is there a way to do this in your department, office,
division? Is there a way to get your organizational leaders to lookfor a higher human
platform which stretches people to doand be their best selves?
I want to use a story that Crane Stokey, whose ideas I find as brilliant and refreshing, used in a
seminar I attended to illustrate how companies can achieve results, increase efficiency and still
create a win for their employees. This manager led engagement and empowerment of his
employees, simply by changing the rules.
One of the production lines at the plant had been having serious productivity and morale
problems for a while. Some of the workers had been on that line for 12 -14 years, but they
hardly ever spoke to each other, except to blame each other when there was a problem.
And there were lots of problems. What to do? Management of course tried coaxing and
threatening all the usual tactics, but that’s not what the workers needed. They didn’t need
management’s heavy hand making them feel even worse than they already felt. Then Gerry
suggested they take a bigger view of what the solution could be. He designed and
undertook a two-year initiative to change the way the line worked. Each worker got trained
in every position on the line. This took time, but eventually they were able to rotate
through all the positions. Each shift was also given responsibility for its own supply chain,
to make sure everything they needed for their shift was ordered and available.
As I said, this took two years, and it cost money. But it caused some powerful shifts. First,
because all the workers were familiar with all the positions on the line, they could rotate
though and have more variety in their work, so they didn’t get stuck in so much repetition.
They also couldn’t blame each other as easily for problems. They knew how difficult some
of the positions were, and how things could easily get backed up or out of sync. So there
was a big increase in mutual support, respect and appreciation. Having responsibility for
their supply chain gave each shift a chance to work together, rather than separated along
the line, which also helped build a cooperative culture. And because the workers had these
new skills and responsibilities, they all got significant raises, which made them happy.
And what was the benefit to Michelin of all this time and money? Productivity on that line
rose 30%. 30%. Michelin made pots of money. It was a very smart and very effective
investment. And no third party, offsite, empowerment retreats were involved. They just
worked with the work.
Let’s face it. The work is what it’s all about. It’s the thing everyone is most personally
invested in, either positively or negatively. It’s the place where the money is. It may be
hard to justify an expense for vague notions of attitude change, but it’s much easier to
justify the expense for something that will directly improve the work.
True engagement links the employee and the organization together in a way for both the
company and the employees to win. Here the manager changed the culture, effectiveness and
efficiency of this department. It changed employee attitudes and behaviors, while improving
organizational efficiency and benefiting the company’s bottom line. You must first improve
effectiveness before you can improve efficiencies. It doesn’t work in reverse. Effectiveness
first and then efficiencies will come.
How do you build effectiveness? Give people what they need to do their jobs to the best of
their ability and do their best work. Engage your employees in dialogue todetermine their
needs. Too many organizations think they know what their employees want and take a top
down approach. They take very little time creating dialogue and listening to their employees.
Provide simple dialogue and see what tools, resources, processes, procedures, policies and
procedures your employees would like to see. Have them be involved in the process and
creating the systems. Employee involvement is one of your greatest assets. Innovation is your
best guide here. Best practices like the one told in Crane Stokey’s story above must be shared.
In the above story the leader changed the rules, and his results were 30% greater efficiencies.
It’s about change. Creating change in an organization is difficult. It takes time and it always has
risks. However, when you create change for the benefit of your people, and engage them in the
process. This will allow them to change the way they feel about their roles. Then, they will
engage themselves and be there best selves.
Engagement and empowerment can only occurfrom within. You must improve work process
so your employees will feel like engaging. Create employee and human –friendly changes that
help the employees feel better about their work. One of the driving factors of all human beings,
we feel better when we have more control over our environments. We feel more valued and
empowered when organizations allow us these freedoms.
So, change the rules. Improve policies and procedures which will enhance the value and energy
of your employees. Create employee friendly work environments. This is true empowerment.
It’s not always the employees holding the organization backfrom accomplishing its strategic
initiatives and reach its financial goals. Which is often the way companies view it. It’s
frequently in reverse. It’s the organization which holds its employees back from being 100%
efficient through creating non-employee friendly policies, processes and procedures.
Many organizations are holding themselves back from meeting their organizational goals
because leaders feel a need to hold to old cultural structures, policies and procedures. Unleash
a few of the structural gates and see what happens. Let your mission, visions and values drive
your culture and create and innovate improved employee friendly policies and procedures and
you will unleash the power of your people within your organization.
There is always a balance between the needs of the organization and the needs of its people.
There is a balance to the universe. A balance in nature. A balance to each of our lives and a
balance within all organizations. When we find, see or reach that balance is where the
greatest happiness and efficiencies come, and it arrives naturally when we put in place the
right ideas, values, structures and processes. The balance will be different for each
organization. You will have to search to find it within your scope of leadership. Leadership will
find empowerment and engagement when as leaders, you put in place changes, policies,
processes and procedures that allow your employees to find and be their best selves. When
your people achieve more and be their best selves your organizations will thrive. An employee
win will always be an organizational win.