HOW and WHY
Improving productivity and increasing associate retention are two main areas of focus for all organizations. The solution can be as simple as ensuring that your associates know “how” and “why”. Management groups are aware of the various functions and interactions of the different job positions and departmental impact however, most managers fail to take the time to explain these details to their workforce. As an example, imagine yourself in a four by four room. There is a conveyor belt that runs into the room through a slot in one wall, and out through another. Your job is to take the pieces that run into your work area, put them together and place them back on the conveyor to exit the other slot. This is your job, day in and day out, hour after hour. So, why do you do this particular job? How does your performance affect others, both on the front end and back end of your task? If you were to put the parts together incorrectly, would it matter? If you stopped the belt to be able to take your time, would there be a downside? In this position, would you be frustrated? Feel unappreciated? Or consider your position to be pointless and unproductive?
Through my years as an internal consultant, I have spoken to large amounts of management personnel and have found that most do not recognize the importance of addressing productivity in a pro-active manner, and in fact, many are under the belief that the associates do not want to know or, in how the silence affects morale. In interviewing over 500 associates I have found that an average of 95% of the workforce are hungry to know that their efforts make an impact, and how they do so. When the leadership team takes the time to explain how each position affects others in the chain, it details how each person acts as a contributor and creates an increased sense of pride and ownership. This will result in increased levels of focus and productivity within thirty to sixty days.
One analogy used when rolling out this program is to say that the organization is like a wall clock. If you take off the face of the clock, you will see a variety of gears many of different sizes. There are large ones and small ones, all interlocked to each other, through each other, each having positions of varying responsibilities and titles. Remove any one of these gears however, and the clock ceases to function. In this way, it is simple to demonstrate that there is no such thing as an insignificant role to the associates and management teams.
I have personally implemented this technique for four different companies, in over 15 different locations throughout the U.S.; this has shown increased performance ranging from 3% up to 10%. In addition, morale and associate retention numbers improved as well, with a turnover reduction of 7%. Additionally, multiple locations reported that associate feedback and suggestions for process improvements not only increased, but more of them were viable ideas.
While this technique has proven successful, it requires the continued support of the management team. Consistency, as with all points in management is critical. Properly implemented, there will be sustainable results. The management team needs to continue to encourage the sharing of knowledge, creating ongoing training and support.