Two startling facts regarding issues absolutely impacting the bottom line of manufacturing companies in today’s challenging economy:
1. The Gallup organization, an international research company with a division that focuses on employee engagement and motivation, estimates $300 billion is wasted every year in lost productivity at U.S. companies due to un-motivated, dis-engaged employees.
2. Another research firm, Sirota Survey Intelligence, reported in 2005 that in 85% of Fortune 1000 companies, employee motivation and morale “declined significantly” within the first six months of employment and continued to go down after that.
Those statistics are startling with regard to the potential impact on bottom line results of companies today. But, it is also not surprising.
Research I recently conducted of over 3000 subscribers to the Workplace Communication Expert blog (www.WorkplaceCommunicationExpert.com) showed 44% of business leaders are unhappy with employee performance.
When you look around your workplace and evaluate the productivity, motivation and morale of your people, how much might your organization be contributing to that $300 billion?
And, in evaluating the cost of hiring, on-boarding and training new employees, if not being done effectively, could this be another place where company profits are stealthily slipping off the financial statement?
Here are three specific strategies manufacturers can apply to develop, maintain or recapture employee motivation, morale and engagement so that your employees are truly assets bringing high value to the work environment:
1) Define your “Championship Game”
From the first day of training camp everyone that is part of an athletic team at any level from little league through the professional ranks knows the ultimate objective and vision for their team (organization) is to reach the Championship Game (for baseball it’s the World Series, football The Super Bowl, soccer it’s the World Cup, etc).
It is the inspiring vision to win the championship that keeps everyone focused, doing the right things for the right reasons so they can contribute to the team’s success, while also being able to reap the well-defined, and not so-well defined, individual and collective rewards and opportunities that come with their contribution.
The same type of culture can be created inside any business. It takes strong, visionary leadership and consistent communication to make it successful.
2) Jointly create an agreed upon set of core organizational communication and behavioral values
Many organizations have their “values” hanging on posters in the hallways while managers and leaders both engage in, and enable others, in behaviors inconsistent with those values.
With no one holding anyone accountable to the values on the walls, performance and behaviors deteriorate and subsequently default to what is witnessed and experienced in the halls.
This, too, is a strategy that is both easy to create, plus easy to maintain when two processes are applied:
i. Bring your team(s) together to jointly create the organizational communication and behavioral values and commit to a “team agreement” that everyone, literally, signs on to.
ii. Leaders, managers and teammates agree to address violations of the values and team agreement immediately (or, at the earliest possible opportunity after a documented and witnessed behavior).
NOTE: One client that recently concluded this process reported employees were self-regulating themselves and their teammates six months after installation of the above strategy.
3) Create a communication “Forum” that includes a “feedback loop”
Communication is always among the top three issues or problems identified by employees in organizations. The challenge with this generic, vanilla statement is that there are too many aspects of communication to fix the problems.
It must be more clearly defined.
In a recent client project three different teams in one focus group identified communication as an organizational problem. Yet, each defined it differently from a completely different context.
One simple way to resolve this issue is to create a formal forum for communication that includes a two-way feedback loop.
This sounds much more complicated than it really is. It simply means that regular, structured meetings are facilitated to bring issues, problems, ideas and suggestions to the fore for company leaders to address and respond to.
There are four key steps for doing this successfully:
1) Schedule meetings at regular and consistent times
2) Invite a cross section of participants representing the various departments, divisions, etc.
3) Collect ideas, chunk them into related categories and prioritize
4) Create a system through which company leaders can respond to every item in a reasonably timely manner.
Often company leaders are leery of developing this type of communication process for fear of the meetings devolving into gripe sessions. These fears are valid and can be eliminated by doing these three things:
1) Setting clear guidelines at the outset,
2) Ensure that all ideas and suggestions are articulated in a positive, constructive manner, and
3) Following through with prompt feedback on all ideas so that those contributing feel as if their contributions were taken under consideration and were valued (it is perfectly okay to say “no” to an idea as long as it comes with a credible reason).
Manufacturers that have implemented some, or all, of the three above suggestions have been able to generate dramatic results, such as:
• $900,000 in waste eliminated within 12 months of implementation
• 300% increase in pre-tax profits over a five-year period
• 100% increase in pre-tax profits within four months of implementation
• 65% permanent improvement in workflow processes and 22% waste reduction within 12 months.
With results like that no business leader in Western civilization can argue that they can’t invest the time, energy and resources to learn how to implement the three simple strategies outlined above.
Give it a try.
Skip Weisman is The Leadership and Workplace Communication Expert based in Poughkeepsie, NY. Since 2001 he has partnered with business leaders and their teams to transform communication in workplaces in a way that offers dramatic increases in productivity, profit margins and the bottom line. His latest white paper report on which this article is based is 3 Simple Secrets to Increasing Your Bottom Line: How Maximizing Motivation, Trust and Commitment in Your Workplace Makes a Difference in Today’s Challenging Economy! The report is available free at www.TheEmployeeEngagementExpert.com . Skip can be reached at 845-463-3838 or by e-mail at Skip@WorkplaceCommunicationExpert.com