The answer is usually under your nose…

In all of my years of business I have learned some simple solutions that always hold true. One of those things I had learned is that the solution is usually under your nose. I will give you a great example….I was tasked to do a manufacturing plant turn around. The company would be all too familiar so I won’t specifically mention them. The company had installed a new production line and it wasn’t producing anywhere near the production they needed to supply sister plants. There were a lot of mechanical fixes we did to right the ship and the client was prepared to build other production lines elsewhere. How do you start such a task?

The answer, talk to the people who are doing the job. The hourly workers are probably just as frustrated as the management, maybe more. My approach was to spend as much time on the shop floor as possible. Try to understand what the issues were and how frustrated the hourly workers are. Who would know better how to do the job properly than the folks that were doing the job?

Yes, we can bring in the Six Sigma team and all the process improvement gurus we want but the answers were clearly right under our nose when we asked the employees what was wrong with their jobs. Don’t assume the management is perceptive enough to realize just what is going on in their facility. Don’t assume that the folks doing the work have a say in how to do their jobs.

Empowerment is usually something we as managers and leaders are afraid of. Why, you might ask? It’s simple, we give up control and we love control or at least to feel we are in control. If I owned a manufacturing business or any business with employees for that matter I would want to make sure my associates:

Understood our objectives and goals
Get associate buy in and support
They are empowered to make decisions about their jobs
They have input on key decisions that involve their futures
They have some stake of ownership and responsibility for success of the organization