Weak Link: Management’s Relationship with People
Inspired by an article in Workforce Performance Solutions Journal Oct 2005 and personal experience.
Waves of downsizing, employer demands, job disenchantment and technologies that keep employees plugged into their jobs both day and night have taken their toll. If recent surveys are any indication, more than half the workforce is fed up. Pollster
Disenchanted workers pull down productivity, increase churn and darken the morale of the people around them. The annual economic costs are huge: as much as 100 billion euros in
How can management reduce the losses caused by an exhausted and demoralized workforce?
Emerging research suggests that workplace toxicity is the major impediment to employee morale and performance. The top reason people leave comes down to their relationship with their boss; indeed, less than one-third of managers are perceived as strong leaders.
So, rather than dive headlong into lean, six-sigma, a technology-based solution, or other means to improve performance, first examine the effectiveness of the people who are tasked with leading your employees:
· How often do they communicate with their direct reports?
· What is the quality of their interaction?
· Can they convey your company's vision in an inspiring manner?
· Are their conversations transforming – or merely transactional?
· Do people leave meetings with their superiors feeling energized – or sapped?
Taiichi Ohno once said that the heart of the Toyota Production System is “management's commitment to invest in its people to promote a culture of continuous improvement”. Lean and TPS are powerful – but fulfilling Ohno's vision first requires that management understands your company's vision, and then be able to inspire, coach, and lead their people.
Our recommendation: Be sure that on-going management development and coaching are an integral part of your company's lean transformation. Have resources available for managers to learn and get help. Consider on-demand 1-to-1 management coaching that's provided on a confidential basis. Offer your supervisors assistance with facilitating their team meetings to demonstrate a positive approach for team learning. All of these elements are a bit on the soft-side, but they're often the missing pieces when we learn why a lean transformation has stalled or failed.