By Malcolm Newman, KCTS Consultant
I have recently carried different types of Health Check assessments on 2 similar but very different manufacturing operations; the one striking thing they had in common was the positive motivation of their employees.
In both operations there was a spread of people who had recently joined the operations to those with 10 or more years experience within the business.
Neither business was paying any more than the market rate, conditions in the plants were relatively safe, healthy and clean; but you would not describe them as particularly good.
Yet nearly all of the people I talked to were enthusiastic about their work. They were keen to show what they did and how they did it. They certainly did not have best in class Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to help them explain what and how things worked.
The outstanding thing they shared was mutual respect.
The Management and Leadership respected people as individuals with knowledge and skills. The team members respected the Managers and Leaders for their position and responsibilities.
As I analysed there opinions and understanding of how thing worked I concluded that they listened to each other; when things were not working to plan or as expected or they had ideas on improvements, they looked for and worked on solutions together.
There were no suggestion schemes or bonuses related to productivity as both managements considered this could be detrimental to quality and motivation. What both had was an openness to share ideas, the shifts supported each other with improvement ideas and they were not competing with each other.
Both operations went to considerable effort to communicate what was happening to the business, there were formal management presentations but most formal communication is through the immediate leaders but backed up by a visible and approachable management team who reinforced the values and policies of the organisation.
Both operations had faced challenges and knew that the external competition in their industry was tough. I think the thing that united these people and motivated them was that to survive and grow they had to do their best. What ever tasks they had to do they were aware of their customers needs and they did not intend to give the customer a bad or even slightly off specification product and they certainly did not like to see money being wasted. It all just makes common sense to them and as everyone in the team feels they are working together they enjoy getting the job done.
Thinking abut why they are so positively motivated I concluded that both operations are a great demonstration that true motivation comes from the way people are treated. Being done to by others as you would want to be treated yourself: Mutual respect.