The Flow Of Information
This time I was hired to conduct a team building training at a reputable car dealership.
I go in early to my assignments for two reasons; information and meditation. I take my time at the reception introducing myself to make the first connection. I usually ask how is your day looking and this is enough to find out about company atmosphere as the reception is the microscale reflection of the business. This receptionist was not particularly engaging and expressed only procedural politeness. An acceptable yet cold welcoming.
Then I settle myself into the staff kitchen as that is where the action usually happens. Sipping my coffee and clearing my mind of all thoughts I hear a heavy sigh of a mechanic who invades my temporary temple. He walked in with a stoop and gave me an unpleasant look. Hello, I said. Hello, he replied and walked out. A minute later he came back. Right after the exchange of cultural politeness I introduced myself and began the conversation:
— You walked in a bit dissatisfied. Be honest and tell me how is your day looking?
— Not good.
— What’s happened?
— This place is a mess. My day has already started but I can’t do a thing as my job card isn’t printed yet.
— And why is that?
— The guy who usually does it is on holiday and our service manager is too busy now.
— It must be frustrating, isn’t it?
— Oh yes. I might go off sick tomorrow – he whispers.
— Well, I would not blame you. The management clearly has got some room for improvement and they know that. They know they are going to lose good people like you, otherwise, I would not be here. This is a sign that they want to change, so just hold on for a moment and see what is coming in the next days and weeks. I can see that you care about what you do so please give them a chance.
All I could do at this moment was to give him some hope and make his day a little bit brighter.
— You are right, it has been going on for so long and I started to think about leaving. Alright then, I’m sure I can last at least next couple of weeks – this time his sight is slightly lighter.
The reasons for losing good people are always the same: the flow of information goes from the top to bottom, but it does not go the other way, and it damn should. For example, I had to wrestle once with the case of bad implementation of Lean. The process itself was great but management dropped it on the workforce, providing the extra responsibility they so 'desired'.
At the end of the day, the front line workforce is what the whole business depends on. It can be an invaluable source of information as long as you are willing to listen.