How many times have you heard – “We’ve always done it this way,” or, “If it isn’t broke then don’t change it”. I feel confident in guessing that you’ll have heard these comments, or something to the same effect, hundreds of times and you probably haven’t thought it could be a root cause of waste.
If they were said directly to you – how would you react?
1) Okay, you know best – I’ll carry on as before
2) I don’t agree with you but I’ll do what I’m told
3) No, I think I’m right and we could make this business even better.
Unfortunately, the first two reactions to change are the most common. This attitude causes businesses to lose out on both sales and profit. People with this mindset, believing that nothing can change, are also creating the greatest unspoken waste in business; that is waste of the capability and commitment of their workforce to improve the business.
The first reaction, “You know best…” assumes a worker is simply that – a worker who does what they’re told by somebody who is the expert – usually a manager. Yet how many times have you privately thought, from what you see at the level of production, that your manager couldn’t run a bath, let alone a business process?
We’ve all heard stories, or experienced for ourselves, about how common sense and ingenuity comes from a workforce when presented with a problem or challenge – i.e. when someone has taken the trouble to ask their opinions and welcomed their feedback. What’s often missing in businesses is a recognition by management and the workforce that they could collaborate, to make the business better. The added benefit of increasing workforces’ morale, because they feel valued, is just an aside.
The second reaction, “I don’t agree but…” highlights the missed opportunity to develop more ideas and talent, often leading to frustration in the mind of the worker. How long could you keep doing a job that you know you could make better but where the business holds you back? What a waste! Would the worker leave at the earliest opportunity? Probably. And would that be a loss to the business? Absolutely!
This may be a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many businesses think along these lines but who don’t act. Would you prefer your workforce to react as per examples 1 and 2, or would you bite someone’s hand off to employ staff who’d clearly wish to be an integral part of the company’s direction and possible growth? Any successful company knows that just establishing management processes does not evoke a thriving business.
Certainly, management and workers equally focussed on business improvement is no walk in the park – it’s hard work and there will be times when it’s anything but plain-sailing. But surely the reward of more profit, a proactive workforce and a rewarding working life for everybody is irrefutably better than the waste of lost business, a mediocre workforce and a lonely, hard grind for the man at the top?
What do you think?