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Employees tend to have a strong desire to participate in the decision-making process within their places of employment. Typically, the employee feedback has proven highly beneficial for improving a variety of processes that result in lower operational costs.
Implementing employee focus areas aligned to the company vision or mission statements is a convenient method to offer employees this participation opportunity. These focus areas can be considered core values. Establishing these core values helps to ensure everyone is aligned in support of the company values and ideals. This approach clearly assists in guiding employee ideas and suggestions into meaningful areas of improvements and savings for the company.
It is helpful to begin by identifying approximately five or six core values. As progress is made within initial core values, additional values can be added or the existing core values can be further developed to enable a more in-depth suggestion effort. Once the core values are agreed upon, listing them in order of priority is equally important. The following represent five prioritized core values that should fit well within any business or organization, and are listed in order of importance: safety, quality, constraints, cost reduction and employee development.
A company would be wise to develop an employee communication forum to promote regular open discussion of ideas and implement previously-shared employee suggestions. This meeting is intended to be a stand-up, quick verbal discussion and should range from a minimum of five minutes to a maximum of 15 minutes. This type of communication meeting should be regularly scheduled and involve as many employees as possible. Although this meeting detracts immediately from the expected output, typically the gain to the company far exceeds the cost of the meeting in a very short time period.
Each employee suggestion shared in this meeting should be recorded and noted alongside the pertinent core value. Recording this information could be accomplished through the use of a dry erase board or some other agreed-upon means to keep record of action items. The noted action or comment should include who was assigned to address the action. Typically these open items are reviewed each meeting to determine whether progress is being made or whether the effort should be discontinued.
Points of DiscussionDepending on the concerns at the time the core values are created, any number of questions or areas of specific focus might be utilized. The following examples of questions or actions, in support of each core value, are offered as points of discussion when developing your respective company focus areas.
Regardless of whether the idea is implemented, the employee offering the suggestion should always be recognized for his or her suggestion in front of his or her peers during this same communication forum. On the other hand, employees have many ideas that can easily and quickly be implemented without requiring an engineering review. These types of suggestions might be as simple as turning off area lights, turning off equipment not in use or closing doors.
These examples are only ideas. A company’s workforce, if allowed to participate in the manner previously outlined, can develop core values that have greater specific meaning for its organization.
Creating Performance MetricsOnce the core values are agreed upon, the organization needs to create and implement performance metrics that will reflect the team’s effort pertinent to each core value. The following examples are offered solely as ideas for use in creating potential performance metrics in an effort to stimulate further team discussion.
Understanding is CrucialThe key item to remember when implementing performance metrics supporting core values is to ensure the understanding of the information by all employees involved.
Core values are normally more easily related to an assigned task when compared to a company vision or mission statement by all employees. Employees better understand or appreciate how their specific assigned task has an influence on the company overall, when addressed within specific agreed upon core values.
Equally important is the creation of a communication forum for sharing ideas, suggestions and progress towards the organizations improvement effort within specific and meaningful core values. Creation of pertinent metrics to track or monitor progress offers encouragement to the organization and identifies areas where additional focus made be required.
Gary Homan has more than 20 years of problem solving in general management and manufacturing operations. He has worked at Intel Corp., ITT Cannon, HEI Inc. and MIC Technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.