Are People Happy When You Enter the Room, or When You Leave It?

IMG_1038KCMN’s October meeting featured author, coach, triathlete and inspirational speaker, Karin Lindner, author of ‘How Can We Make Manufacturing Sexy?’ Karin’s message centered on the concerns of many in the manufacturing space: how to get and keep good people.  Karin discussed the evolution of the modern workforce of today, noting that when we evolved from the hunter gatherer mode, that an agricultural society left 90% of the hunter gatherers obsolete.  As we move from the industrial age to the age of information, the labor intensive assembly line single function worker jobs are rapidly going the way of the hunter gatherer; we are entering the age of the knowledge worker.  While companies attempt to trim waste, Karin argues the #1 waste in manufacturing is human potential.

When asking about stresses of the people in the room, a common theme emerged: getting, keeping and motivating people.  While Karin noted that indeed this could be a problem, she countered with, “You can’t change your people, but you can change yourself”.  She recounted that when speaking to a manufacturer who noted, “All of my people are stupid”, she countered with, “Did you hire them that way, or did they become stupid in your work environment?”  Too often, in production the focus is on the process, not the people, and Karin argued that production is really 10% process and 90% people. Too often, managers are so focused on the tangible: the deadline, the product, the process. They forget that people have different motivations, needs, and goals which can be harnessed to make many small, incremental changes that can add up to bigger gains and a more productive workforce that is engaged to contribute.  She asked “Are you the person who makes people happy when you enter the room, or when you leave the room?”  With employee engagement levels at less than 50% in manufacturing, it is critical to find ways to harness the potential of your employees, if you want to keep them.

Karin noted that you can have a fixed mindset, or a growth mindset.  A growth mindset focuses on what can be, vs. feeling like nothing is going to change; “it’s only failure if you stop trying”.  She challenged the audience that some of their beliefs could change in order to improve their way of getting the maximum potential from their employees and their work.  A belief is a thought that you think over and over again. Her tips:

-Positivity: Train your mind to see the good in every situation; don’t get hung up on the little things

-Clarity: Be clear in how you express yourself, and what your goals are; and communicate to employees how they contribute to the bigger picture.

-Identity: What you believe – “Operational excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude.”

Karin’s overall message focused on the need to focus on people, not processes, numbers or tasks. She challenged the audience:

-To create a vision for what the ideal situation looks like

-Ask meaningful questions

-Refuse the status quo: always ask if there is a better way.

If your employees don’t want to come to work, what is your role in changing that mindset?