Ever work in a place where there was an “open-door” policy with upper management? Or were told your ideas and suggestions are taken seriously? Only to find out that door seems shut and innovative thinking is seen more as defying supervision. Unfortunately, in many organizations this is simply the norm. Workers become keen on doing just enough and are unable to make decisions that would help make a process more efficient.
How do we combat this? How do we make it so our workers feel and know their ideas do matter? It all starts with leadership and the way employee suggestions are handled, from simple solutions, to complex needs of technicians. Managers need to be actively engaged in what the technicians are doing and most of all where they are falling short. Actively engaged does not mean to micromanage, but to talk to the technicians throughout their day and simply ask how things are going and if anything is holding them back. Most of the time managers only come out to see what the progress is and then ask why things aren’t further along. This seems like the exact same thing, and in writing, it is. However, in practice it comes down to body language and how a manager comes across, it also hinges on past experiences with a technician and managers. To make this an effective visit a manager has to ask direct questions to the technicians and actively listen. When something seems a miss, ask what they (manager) can do to make sure things will go in the right direction.
All too often technicians are asked what they need, and too often something is mentioned and gets not much more thought of effort put into researching it. To help instill the notion that as a manager you are going to do what’s needed to find out if a suggestion is something viable and valuable to the company. Make sure you fully understand what is being suggested, ask more questions as need, and simply follow up with the individual or group that made the suggestion, and do this in a relatively timely fashion. When you address the individual or group about their proposed improvement after putting in your own time to find them answers, good or bad, your workers will believe you are there for them and will in turn work better and harder.
Being a good leader means you do everything you can for those who get the job done every day. When your employees believe that you have their best interests and needs in mind, the better quality and quantity of work will get done. This builds a culture that is efficient and most of all trustworthy, without trust in management employee’s will always second guess decisions and not put forth their best efforts.
Be a leader, be a mentor, and those under your supervision will perform at their best on a daily basis.