Principles of operation, that most companies tend to practice, are principles that have been in practice for the last 50 plus years. They are the result of the industrial era. These industrial principles of operation, management by control and motivation by incentive, have produced a workforce that does good work…most of the time.
The movement through this era has been one of get-more-out-of-less and how-to-create sameness (mass production, mass marketing, mass employees, etc). This has taken the song-in-ones-heart for the sake of and the joy out of doing. The work force has jobs, responsibilities, which are work to be done. Doing good work today in this industrial way feels like work; intense and frustrating.
Operation principles that makes work feel intense and frustrating, asks for more and brings about sameness, eventually pushes employees into resentment. The end results, according to surveys that have been ran, is a workforce where 50% (one in every two) are just going through the motions and 17% (one in every six) are disgruntled; in sum, 67% (two in every three) of the workforce is only partially engaged with the work being done.
According to a panel of Spokane business Human Resource professionals, one-half of the current employees plan to change companies when the economy changes. And, eighty percent, who are quitting jobs, quit because of their immediate supervisor. It is clear that our industrial era principles of operation have reached a limit. They are no longer creating employee engagement. Nor, are they creating an enthusiasm toward work and ones employer.
According to contemporary authors, who are researching human potential, we have entered into a new era. Management by control and motivation, industrial principles, are no longer the most effective way. Our workforce has changed. Today’s workforce operates under different norms, values and ethics. Strictly speaking: “…if it is not personal…then it is not pertinent…” Beliefs are focused around: “…we believe that we can have what we want to have…do what we want to do…and live accordingly…” The industrial principles are not always in harmony with these new norms, values and ethics.
These contemporary authors are also writing about new principles. The new principles operate from a personal engagement level of stewardship, partnering and self-reliance rather than control. They are driven by personal inspiration rather than motivation. This personal engagement level is fully engaged rather than partially engaged. These new principles focus on personal participation; on personal choice in what work is done; on personal freedom to experience surprise and failure; and, on personal interest.
Are these new principles finding their way into Spokane businesses? To answer this question a number of local businesses were interviewed. The business mix included: manufacturing, packaging, full-service niche products, automotive sales, publishing, transportation and a technologies company. The results proved to be both interesting and revealing.
Business owners were, in most cases, very charitable in investing time to visit. Certain businesses conveyed a comfortableness with who they are and the quality of their business. This comfortableness included management philosophy, disclosure of business costs and revenues, a fun tour of the business, and the opportunity to interact with employees. Heartfelt was to hear an employee with a delightful greeting: “…welcome to our place here at ABC Company…” The economics of the businesses included costs consciousness, lean practices, innovation, inventory control, equipment evaluation and focus on employees. The principles of stewardship, partnering and self-reliance have been implemented in-part. This only-in-part implementation was found to be due to a lack of understanding of what is required to bridge the gap from the industrial principles to the new.
To understand these two different sets of principles relative to each other, let’s draw a performance improvement line. The industrial performance, given a starting point of one, has evolved to seven.
9______10 new elevated level
1 industrial performance 7 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The new principles performance is, in the 9 to 10 zone, on an elevated level relative to the industrial performance. Business can not merely evolve from the industrial level to the new elevated level. The difference in operation principles requires a revolution in the way of managing, an educational process, not just the incremental improvement process of evolution. To bridge the gap and simultaneously elevate to the new level requires an understanding of how to knit together the management-control-performance techniques, which have driven the industrial era, with inspiration, the personal interest driver of the new elevated level.
The Spokane businesses that participated in the interviews are evolving up to and through the seven point on the performance line. One business with a high performance level, took employee personal interest to heart, decided to change supervision and management that were creating, through to-rigidly-holding-on-to and managing-by industrial principles, employee conflict. The economic results for this company have been a steady growth in sales from 2008 through today. Every business during the interviews expressed two feelings: First, caution toward the economics of the new economy; and Second, interest in a way to better understand the new workforce.
What is needed to bring understanding, to bring a revolution in the way of managing to the new level, is a companywide education program. An education program that influences all employees: ownership, management, staff, supervision and line workers. An education program that creates performance consciousness driven by personal interest. An education program that creates a community of working-together-employees invested in a common vision and mission. An education program that brings joy, fun and a sense of belonging. An educational program that brings a meaningful feeling about work.
Without education to elevate performance consciousness, business will not, as a matter of course, evolve to the elevated performance level. With education, great opportunity is available. Opportunity to help employees become inspired and self-initiated. To help employees experience value, growth and personal worth. To help employees dovetail personal interest in with Company vision and mission. To help partially engaged employees move, from doing good work, to fully engaged craftswo/men doing great work. Great opportunity to bring joy, fun and a sense of belonging back into the meaning of doing work.
As you start your business it is important to understand these principles. These are the principles that will create rapid growth and a competitive advantage over your rivals.