“Three people were at work on a construction site. All were doing the same job, but when each was asked what the job was, the answers varied. Breaking rocks, the first replied. Earning my living, the second said. Helping to build a cathedral, said the third.” Peter Schultz
If a business wants to be effective in this (or any other) economy, the key is to make sure employees can be as productive as possible. This can be accomplished by helping employees feel valued and important, as well as helping them see the big picture.
Why should businesses help employees feel important?
An employee who feels valued and important is much more likely to come to the job with pride and do the work as well as humanly possible.
For example: A group of managers were taking a tour of an assembly line for a pen manufacturer. They asked each person along the line to explain their responsibilities. Then they came to a woman who had the very obvious task of buffing the clips and placing them on the pens. Since they knew that she had seen them talk with everyone else, they asked her what she did. They fully expected her to simply tell them that she put the clips on the pens.
However, what she said was this: “I am responsible for the image of our company. If the clip isn’t buffed so it shines and if it isn’t perfectly aligned on the pen, then the person who purchases our pen will have a rumpled lapel pocket- and that is not the image we want for our company.”
Someone in the company had taken the time to imbue this woman’s work with great dignity and importance. The additional benefit is that, if they need her to temporary assist with packaging the pens, she is going to be equally committed to doing a good job. Why? Because she doesn’t want her perfectly buffed and aligned clips to be scratched or jostled in transit.
Why is seeing the big picture essential to employee performance?
It has a huge positive impact on productivity and quality when employees understand the consequences of their performance.
For example: During a lead worker training program for an assembly plant that made anti-lock brakes for cars, the trainer determined that the participants never walked new hires down the entire line so that they could see the final product. They simply showed them what to do at their point in the assembly process.
When asked if they thought it might be a good idea to show new hires the final product, one woman strongly agreed. Her daughter and granddaughter had recently been in a car accident and the anti-lock brake saved their lives. The woman was awestruck that she might have helped to manufacture that anti-lock brake. She finally realized that what she did on the job could have life or death consequences. Clearly, this insight would give even the most mundane assembly job a sense of importance and purpose.
If we want employees to be productive, we need to dignify their jobs and help them see that their performance has a significant impact on the success of the organization.
May your learning be sweet.