HaysenSandiacre, a large manufacturing corporation based out of the southern United States, had a workforce much like any other large manufacturing plant. Clock in. Clock out. Listen for the whistle to signal break. Listen for the whistle to signal lunch, and the signal to end the day.
When CEO Bob Chapman took over the company, he began to interview the floor workers. Asking them what they did and didn’t like about their jobs. Most workers who’d been with the company for their entire careers, expressed concern over the lack of trust the company seemed to have in them. When deadlines had to be met, and a longer day was required, people up in the office could pick up the phone and call home. Floor workers had to ask permission from their supervisor to leave their work-station and then use their own money for the payphone.
To prevent theft, workers were required checkout tools when they needed to fix something and then check them back in by days end. This resulted in the workers thinking the company expected them to steal.
This story was first related in the book, “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek. It is an excellent illustration of how leaders have the power to do simple things to turn first teams, and then companies, around.
In conjunction with his interviews, Bob Chapman noticed that the enjoyment level of the factory floor workers changed drastically as soon as the bell rang for the shift to begin. All joy drained from their faces. They dreaded the work day.
Chapman started to work. Without any bravado or public announcement, the pay phones were replaced with company phones. The locks were taken off the tool cabinets. Permission to use either was no longer required. All whistles were removed, and employees were treated like team members, not a chain-gang work force.
Silently and gradually, HaysenSandiacre became a company that trusted its employees and more importantly, a company trusted by their employees.
This week’s challenge for you, as a leader, is to examine your workplace environment. What ‘locks’, restrictions, or protocols are in place that lead to a no-trust atmosphere? Are there any ‘we have always done it that way’ approaches, well-justified by past thinking or an antiquated ‘best practice’, that need to be re-thought? What puts you above your floor workers?
We’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks, but in order to fix a problem, you need to first recognize its presence.
Good luck this week!