Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Month: September 2013

The words of Bob Dylan, talking about working

I was listening to Bob Dylan’s old album, “Bring It All Back Home” (1965) and a couple of lyrics caught my attention as I was thinking of the workplace and engagement and similar. I sometimes share his “white guy music” with my younger friends who think that rap is such a new thing. Dylan had to be the original rapper – heck, I saw him in concert back in 1970, which is before most readers were born, I think.

I play with Square Wheels cartoons as a metaphor for people at the back of the wagon who cannot see far forward nor are they involved and engaged in workplace improvement. The reality looks like this:

A couple of his lyrics in “It’s Alright, Ma” just grabbed me:

You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more p
erson crying.

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to…

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destiny
Speak jealously of them that are free
raise what they grow up to be nothing more than something they invest in (alt lyric from live performance).

Dylan, born in 1941, was a poet, a protester and, “a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest;” some people loved him and many could not simply understand. Many of his early songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’“, became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements and represent how he was remembered. But he sang and wrote about people and society.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in 1963

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in 1963

Anyway, here is a link to the music itself and below are the lyrics.

Darkness at the break of noon
Shadows even the silver spoon
The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying

Pointed threats, they bluff with scorn
Suicide remarks are torn
From the fool’s gold mouthpiece the hollow horn
Plays wasted words, proves to warn
That he not busy being born is busy dying

Temptation’s page flies out the door
You follow, find yourself at war
Watch waterfalls of pity roar
You feel to moan but unlike before
You discover that you’d just be one more
Person crying

So don’t fear if you hear
A foreign sound to your ear
It’s alright, Ma, I’m only sighing

As some warn victory, some downfall
Private reasons great or small
Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
To make all that should be killed to crawl
While others say don’t hate nothing at all
Except hatred

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Make everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge
And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it

Advertising signs they con
You into thinking you’re the one
That can do what’s never been done
That can win what’s never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks they really found you

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit
To satisfy, insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to

Although the masters make the rules
For the wise men and the fools
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something they invest in

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society’s pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he’s in

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it’s alright, Ma, if I can’t please him

Old lady judges watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn’t talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony

While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer’s pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death’s honesty
Won’t fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only

Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music
A wikipedia review of the song and its history is found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_Alright_Ma_(I%27m_Only_Bleeding)

Anyway, I thought to write about it. Playing it now, actually.

You can listen his live performances on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ5XtabITh8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtW6crUOFQs
where he adlibs and changes the lyrics and has obvious fun with the audiences…

Have fun out there!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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Team Building Followup – Maximizing Impact with Cartoons

This is our 20th year of selling team building games and we are pleased to have so many great customers. In particular, we get tremendous feedback about The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. This focuses on leadership and inter-organizational collaboration as well as anything we have ever encountered. And we have the testimonials to prove it.

teambuilding image

Another one of our special tools revolves around our Square Wheels illustrations and the toolkits that we developed for facilitating organizational improvement. As many people know, we started up a separate blog just for cartoons and poems — that has been FUN!!

square wheels image of how things work

These two things came together when a good customer asked if we had used any of the Lost Dutchman cartoons as poems for followup with individual participants, since so many of the debriefing discussions focus on themes of, “What will you do differently when you get back on the job?” and similar questions. Good question, the result of which is me playing with illustrations and doing more rhyming. I never thought of myself as a writer, much less a poet.

The result is that I am building up a big base of poems around all sorts of issues of organizational behavior. My goal is to have a complete set of illustrations that users could grab to send in regularly scheduled followup with clients or that clients could use with the game participants themselves as a way of throwing some mud at the fence and getting people to continue thinking of the choices they make around collaboration and problem solving.

I thought to share a few of the ideas here. Research has shown that images are retained better than words AND that simple poems and phrases add to the impact. So, the idea was to combine the images and some poems into a graphic that users of the game would be able to embed in followup emails or use in other ways,

Here are some of the first of these illustrated poems:

Dutchman Game Followup 1

Dutchman Game Followup Jeep 3

Dutchman Game Followup Teams 4

Dutchman Game Followup music 5

Dutchman Game Followup Top 6

Dutchman Game Followup Mud 7

Dutchman Game Followup Mud 8

One of the things that has been amazing is the quality of user feedback and testimonials we get about the overall effectiveness of the exercise. You can see some of what our users say in this blog post summarizing our owner survey.

 

Lots of times, we generate Action Plans from the debriefing in our sessions and we can all be pretty assured that we can do some things to improve on the likelihood of implementation because of the nature of the comments that are generated. I am hoping that cartoons, poems and questions might be another tool.

I hope that you find these of some interest; we are always looking to collaborate as well as to optimize the impact and effectiveness of our materials,

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

Snobbery and the Perception of Competence – Thinking about Thinking

It’s not too often that I go off-tangent but I really liked this article by Alex Mayyasi at http://priceonomics.com/the-science-of-snobbery/ and the research it offered on how we evaluate things. I would be sure that a lot of it will apply to how we evaluate ideas for innovation and impact a lot of executive decision making. To that, I will ask my readers to comment and embellish.

The research discussed was found in two threads, the inability of people to evaluate wine and the lack of correlation in results between price and taste — as Mayyasi says,

“…Priceonomics had recently posted an article investigating The Price of Wine, part of which reviewed research that cast doubt on both consumers’ and wine experts’ ability to distinguish between quality wine and table wine or identify different wines and their flavors. It seemed a slippery slope to the conclusion that wine culture is nothing more than actors performing a snobbish play.”

So, he started looking at the research on how people evaluate classical music and whether the same kind of results might be found.

Chia-Jung Tsay was an extremely talented young pianist. But she is now a psychologist and an Assistant Professor in Management Science and Innovation at University College London, so she set up an experiment to examine the role of visual cues in judging musical performances.

emerson-string-quartet-credit-richard-termine-new-york-times-redux-eyevine

The article and the research are about decision-making and how people judge “performances” of all kinds. It is not simple.

In a famous experiment, participants viewed 30 second silent video clips of a college professor teaching a class and asked them to rate the effectiveness of the professor. When these ratings were compared to the end of semester ratings of real students, participants had done astoundingly well at rating the professor off an initial impression – there was an extremely strong correlation of 0.76.

Participants were just as effective when watching 6-second video clips and when comparing their ratings to ratings of teacher effectiveness as measured by actual student test performance. SIX SECONDS!!

The power of intuitive first impressions has been demonstrated in many other contexts. One study found that people predicted the outcome of political elections remarkably well based on silent 10 second video clips of debates – significantly outperforming political pundits and predictions made based on economic indicators.

Mayyasi also cites a real world case where a number of art experts successfully identified a 6th century Greek statue as a fraud, even though the statue had survived a 14 month investigation by a respected museum that included the probings of a geologist/ The experts instantly recognized something was off but they just couldn’t explain how they knew.

But this is also to say that these impressions can also be WRONG, such as in the experiments cited by Daniel Kahneman in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. (You can see my thoughts on it here. You can find Lucy Freedman’s thoughts on thinking here.)

Square Wheels image of Daniel Kahneman

Cases like this represent the thinking behind the idea of the “adaptive unconscious,” a concept made famous by journalist Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink. The basic idea is that we constantly, quickly, and unconsciously do the equivalent of judging a book by its cover. After all, a cover provides a lot of relevant information in a world in which we don’t have time to read every page. Watch how people select books to read from the New Release shelf at your public library!

I find this stuff really interesting. Hope you do, too.

Your comments and thoughts about how these themes might affect engagement and involvement and teamwork in your organization would be most interesting.

For the FUN of It!

scott tiny casual

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

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Thoughts on thinking about decision-making

Decision-making and motivation, two related but pretty complex issues. If you read some blogs, you might think that there is some silver bullet to get a grip on these thing. But in my thinking,

It is Dangerous to Know The Answer.

Dangerous only because once you think you know, then you will stop looking… (You can see a lot more about this paradox in my article on managing and leading change, along with a joke and a surprising set of punchlines. Click here to see that article on change and thinking.

And sometimes, it is simply hard-headeness and stubbornness that gets in the way of making better decisions about things. We select ideas from “considered options” and if we already know the answer to something, we are not often willing to spend the time and energy looking for alternatives.

A blog I read recently said,

Over fifty years of scientific research has revealed that there are three distinct styles of decision-making. Each of us can make decisions in all three ways, but we tend to develop a preference for one more than the other two. This preference becomes a subconscious force, affecting the decisions we make on a daily basis and shaping how we perceive the world around us and ourselves. The three decisional styles are personal, practical, and analytical.

Well, that sure seems like a simple answer. Gee, only three styles… And there may be some truth in that. (You can find the blog post here.)

My experience lends me to believe that things are a bit more complicated than that. In a LinkedIn thread on this subject, I responded with this:

There are a variety of patterns of decision-making and I will take a position that no one assessment would possibly cover them all, but that it might give some clues as to patterns and preferences.

From the NLP literature, there are different “convincer systems” that operate to confirm a decision prior to action. I am a kinesthetic decision maker — I gotta feel that it is right “in my gut” before doing things. But I am also an auditory processor of information, so that my self-talk about it is good.

We all have different sorting styles for dealing with information, which is another thing I like from the NLP literature. I prefer fast, big-chunk, random possibilities sorting, which others would prefer to sort things in a slower, smaller unit, sequential way looking for outcomes. (There are 7 other patterns that are used, like sorting for I, You or Us, for example.)

From the old Kepner-Tregoe literature, there is a flow chart for decision making. (It is now called something else) but there is a logical and “scientific” framework for dealing with information.

From the work of Ned Herrmann is the HBDI tool, which gets into how individuals and teams think.

You have the Six Thinking Hats of Ed DeBono, which is really easy to teach and to do and which generates a variety of different teams.

LD Thumbs Up teamwork poem

Some organizations, like the Nuclear Power Institute, teach their teams to always appoint someone who functions as Devil’s Advocate, whose role is to ALWAYS challenge every decision from different viewpoints and positions, to insure that people have thought about it from all sides.

Gene Calvert wrote a book called High Wire Management years ago that looked at decision-making from a risk management viewpoint, and how most really successful managers look at and deal with risk (with some surprising findings, actually).

It is a rich literature about how individuals and teams make decisions, one that will insure that you will want to use a team process for so many complex decisions about things. And that is just the decision-making side of all this.

The “motivational” side of things gets even wilder. I have a doctorate degree in that kind of stuff but will basically say that if anyone give you, “The Answer” to all this, run yelling…

Dan Pink’s stuff is pretty good. You can see a great video, one that animates the key points and is 10 minutes long, by clicking here.

Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow, is absolutely the best thing I have read in a long time. I will be writing a lot more about his work and how it impacts performance in other blogs – I exchanged my library copy and purchased one for myself.

Lastly, don’t get confused. Just understand that you don’t know how all this really works and that you don’t need to. Work to involve and engage other people, give the process some time, and realize that you do not need to be either a Hero or a Victim in all this!

SWs One - things you will see border

Yeah, there are a LOT of models out there and they all serve different purposes. As that statistician George Box (who was repeatedly quoted by Deming) said,

All models are wrong.
Some models are useful.

And I like the Kahneman model, which I adapted as follows about “What I see is all there is.”

SWs One - Things I need to do more celebrate 100

I think any framework can be useful as a way of understanding the things that operate around us. I will just repeat myself and say that when it comes to people and brain functioning, it gets a bit more complex…

Thinking Hats green

We’re made up of a lot of different individuals and there will soon be FIVE different generations of workers in the workplace, as I write about in this post. You can rest assured that decision-making and motivation will continue to increase in complexity.

What I see is a continuing need in the workplace is for simulations like The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and the different Square Wheels games like Collaboration Journey, tools that get people into a decision-making mode and where teamwork and interactions lead to opportunities to discuss decisions and thinking and collaboration and all those things that are necessary for top performance.

Find out more about our simple Square Wheels Facilitation Toolkit at this link:

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

People perform better when they are aligned to shared goals and common visions and where they have some trust in each other. Our programs are designed as tools for that kind of team improvement process,

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

Bill Cosby, John LeCarre and Jim Collins on Improving Workplace Performance and Motivation

Bill Cosby made a great presentation years ago at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Conference in San Diego. he told the story of:

… two geniuses and two human resources professionals at the gates of heaven, all trying to get in. The gatekeeper said there was a simple way to gain entry: just give God a question that he couldn’t answer. If you could stump him, you got in.

The Geniuses huddled and talked back and forth for a while, but no matter how hard they tried to ask questions, God always had the answer.

Those two human resources people, on the other hand, huddled for just a moment, scribbled down a single question and handed it to the gatekeeper.

He reappeared a few minutes later and said they had done well and that God was stumped, so they could enter Heaven when they liked. 

The geniuses were puzzled. How? What, they asked the gatekeeper, could those two HR people have possibly been able to ask God that he couldn’t answer?

It was simple, the gatekeeper said:  “They asked God when the company they had been working for was going to get its shit together.”

The joke was well received because of the reality:  Businesses really don’t have it together!

The workforce and staff know it to be true and pretty uniform across organizations. These same people, as customers, undoubtedly feel it when interacting.

Square Wheels One with Customer Riding

But top managements just don’t seem to be aware that they do not really know what is happening or if they have the right operational policies and procedures in place.

As the author John LeCarre, once wrote,

“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”

Jim Collins, author of management books as Good to Great and Built to Last, showed that a very typical problem is that “the CEO has already made a decision, and that view of “leadership” was to get people to participate so that they feel good about the decision already made.” This is a really poor way to manage because, “you’re ignoring people who might know a lot that would be useful in making the decision.”

Collins added: “You’re accepting the idea that because you’re in the CEO seat, you somehow know more or you’re really smarter than everyone else, But what you’re really doing is cutting yourself off from hearing options or ideas that might be better.”

The story and Collins’ research make the same point:  Leaders are not fully informed. They know some things but not everything. They tend to look at numbers and receive information that has been filtered a number of times (see how I close this with, “In The Beginning!”). Senior leadership seldom actually deal with customers or customer problems and do not have their hands on the keyboards and phone pads that influence results and touch the business. And talking with the CEO of another company does not make them hands-on, either!

A Desk is Dangerous Place from which to View the World

People down in the trenches understand an awful lot more about the business than the executive suite people give them credit for and they have good hands-on feelings about the causes of a lot of problems. They also have a lot of good ideas about how to make the business operate more efficiently and more effectively. While they may not understand the Big Picture and the overall issues, they certainly know a lot about how things actually work in their areas of expertise.

The problem is, the people with their hands on things are generally not asked what they think or about what should be done differently. They are often pushed into competing with other departments rather than collaborating in meaningful ways. Worse, from a motivational and developmental perspective, they are often simply handed down decisions without being given an opportunity to have any meaningful input or change to those ideas – this generates compliance.

Heck, even God would probably understand the issues and opportunities communicated in my favorite quote:

“Nobody ever washes a rental car.”

We totally agree that these are real issues! And this is where our Square Wheels® tools can easily have a huge impact. We provide simple tools for helping managers dramatically improve communications, helping them become better facilitators for motivation and innovation and allowing their people to have a voice and feel ownership. They can use our tools to remove roadblocks, identify issues and generate possible solutions, all the while doing this with the people rather than to them.

A wide variety of workplace statistics point to the dissatisfaction of employees because they perceive that leaders do not care about their ideas for improvement. Many feel little involvement in the decisions that directly affect them and often feel they have no effective way to voice their ideas, opinions and solutions concerning workplace issues or ideas.

For managers, a great way to tap this source of ideas is to facilitate a session using Square Wheels® illustrations.  These illustrations provide a “safe” non-threatening format for people to openly discuss issues and ideas and work on implementation.

Square Wheels One is an illustration that sets up the metaphor of the wagon moving along on Square Wheels with Round Wheels in the wagon.

square wheels image of how things work

The Manager begins the session by showing the cartoon and stating that this is how most organizations seem to work. At this point, he asks the participants (who are ideally seated at round tables with 5 to 6 people per table), to talk among themselves about how they see their organization in the illustration.

After 5 minutes, ask for reactions from each table and write them on an easel pad, preferably containing the illustration. Leaders need to get their people involved and engaged. And the leaders also need to be active participants in the improvement process itself — they must clearly show their support for the show to go on…

square wheels on ownwership

Lastly, all of this discussion reminds me of a classic, which I have reproduced for your enjoyment:

In the Beginning was The Vision
And then came the Assumptions
But the Assumptions were without Form
And the Vision was without substance.
And Darkness was upon the faces of the Workers
As they Spoke amongst themselves, saying:
“It is a Crock of Shit, and it Stinketh, badly.”

 So the Workers went to Supervisors and sayeth unto them:
“It is a Pail of Dung, and none may abide the Odor thereof.”

And Supervisors went to Managers, and sayeth unto them:
“It is a Container of Excrement, and it is
so very Strong that none may abide it.” 

And Managers went to Directors and sayeth unto them:
“It is a vessel of Fertilizer, and none may abide its Strength.”

And Directors went to Vice Presidents and sayeth:
“It contains that which aids plant Growth, and it is very Strong.” 

And Vice Presidents went to Executives and sayeth unto them:
“It promoteth Growth, and it is very very Powerful.” 

And Executives went to the President, and sayeth unto him:
“This powerful Vision will actively promote Growth and Efficiency
of our departments and our company overall.” 

And the President looked upon the Vision and saw that it was good.
Thus the Vision became The Reality.

Yeah, the reality is that information is quite filtered as it rolls up the organization, so do what you can to get more hands on (so to speak!).

See more thoughts on thinking and decision-making at this other popular blog of ours:

Square Wheels ideas are good implementation

and find out more about our tools for engagement by clicking the image-link below:

Square Wheels are simply great tools

For the FUN of It, be involved and engaged!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

The ROUND Wheels of Today are the Square Wheels of Tomorrow

Or, “Thoughts on Continuous Continuous Improvement…”

I’ll start this by begging the question. I’ll guess that 100,000+ people have seen this and fully agreed that the following illustration represents how things really work in most organizations:

square wheels image of how things work

For the past 20 years, we have shown the above and asked people to talk about what they see. Uniformly, they identify things that are now working smoothly as well as all sorts of communications and leadership issues. Plus, they see and agree that the round wheels already exist, that there are lots of ways to make pretty simple improvements if the gang would just stop, step back, and then implement those ideas. They are also in agreement that stepping back is a key thing, but hard to do since they are simply expected to keep pushing and pulling.

And they often can and do make improvements. Improvement does tend to be continuous in many organizations. People discover and implement better ways of getting things done. But those same improvements will also need improvement. One does not ever complete a continuous improvement process — it is a continuous process. It is something called Continuous Continuous Improvement by people in the Department of Redundancy Department!

At the same time, we must recognize that the rest of the world is continuing to also improve and innovation and new tools and processes will continually become available, changing the above to something more like this:

square wheels celebration poem

 

So, the key learning point is that we can never stop improving and never stop looking for ideas and processes that will make things work better, including both our work lives as well as our personal lives. We can also look toward using the horses or taking the trains to make our journeys easier.

And that is not to say that the occasional buggy ride is not any fun. Just don’t continue to do things the same way, especially if you are a wagon puller. After all, the View at the front of the wagon is a LOT different than the view at the back!

square wheels illustrations view front back

 

Communications, vision and perspectives are all keys to the process of continuous continuous improvement process. (grin)

For the FUN of It!

 

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

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People are our Most Important Asset – Seriously? Yes, seriously!

How many companies state that “people are the most important asset” to their organization’s success. Well, I guess years ago, that was a much more common statement in their missions and more of a reality. Today, we do not hear that kind of thing all that much, maybe because of all the cognitive dissonance it creates. But it is STILL true!

Maybe the shift started back during the “Re-Engineering Days” 0f old whereby so many larger organizations were cutting headcount left and right. A LOT of people were leaving the workforce, some of them being older employees seeing handwriting on the wall and taking the severance packages that were being offered. Headcounts were dropping in a wide variety of industries with the goal of improving profitability.

These days, we see lots of statistics that infer that so many people working in so many places may not be feeling like Most Important Assets (MIA) of their companies.

As reported in other blogs of mine and here,  there is really good data to support the reality that people ARE Most Important Assets (but that many are found to be that other MIA: Missing In Action):

This from Gallup (2012) with 1.4 million people and almost 50,000 organizations:  Employee engagement  and involvement affects performance results. Compared with bottom-quartile groups, top-quartile performing engaging organizations have:

  • 37% lower absenteeism
  • 25% lower turnover (in high-turnover organizations)
  • 65% lower turnover (in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer patient safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% higher productivity
  • 22% higher profitability

Stats show 85% of employees report their morale declines significantly after spending 6 months on the job (from Sirota Survey Intelligence), and

49% of workers say they constantly have their antennae out for new job opportunities — even when they are happy in their current position. 

Few feel their current employer is giving them a fair deal in terms of advancement opportunities (Kelly survey). There are all sorts of fairness in compensation issues and many people self-report that they could actually do a good  bit more each day if they wanted to!

There are just so many things we can do to better involve and engage people in workplace improvement, innovation and customer service quality improvement. The challenge is getting our front-line supervisors and managers to better understand the issues and opportunities and to simply choose to do some things differently.

Here are a few little ditties around this theme, with each of these images linked to some other writings about people and performance:

Square Wheels One - brain in your head poem

Square Wheels One - Leading Philosophy

Square Wheels One - Always do what always done border

Wheel Playing haiku wheels image

Square Wheels - Celebration is key to success

We use cartoons like the above as tools for generating discussion and involvement, finding that through discussions of how things are working, we can generate employee engagement and a lot more intrinsic motivation for workplace improvement. For this purpose, we sell a variety of leadership development tools and facilitation skills support packages, in the hopes that supervisors can work more effectively with their people.

See more of our products here at our website on Performance Improvement.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

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