I just got back from a Dr. Pepper plant in Texas where managers told me about people laughing at work a lot more since they began the transition to becoming a High Performance Work Place (HPWP). As a person who has been writing a book about work practices that are good for both business and the individuals working for them, I was impressed. Manufacturing is not known for its fun factor.
I visited a plant in which workers feel respected. Workers in the plant are trusted to do what is best for their company as they go about their work and even share responsibility for hiring new people. This is a plant where workers and the company are doing well.
I had lunch with a half dozen of the managers and asked them how things have changed since HPWP training began last year. I was told the plant is completely different: Employees are coming in with solutions instead of complaining. There is dramatically less shrinkage (product being taken). More information is being shared with employees. Driver meetings include guests speakers, taste tests, and quarterly reports. "Folks now believe management will fix things when they bring up problems." Turnover has gone down. They are finding more talent in the company and also have better options when hiring.
One manager made an analogy: Lots of people look like limestone and get treated like limestone, tossed aside. Traditional management styles overlook the diamond inside the limestone. HPWP recognizes the diamonds. He used to see his workers as just drivers. He described going to church on a Sunday when one of his drivers was there with his family. The driver was in a suit; he was clearly a respected elder in this community. This manager now sees all his reports differently.
HPWPs benefit from valuing workers' good will and life experiences. Structuring work to empower the 95% of workers who are good people who want to do a good job is crazy smart. The 5% who don't want to do a good job simply don't belong there and are responsibly counseled out.
It is a huge challenge to transform a manufacturing facility with a 1000 workers. Not everyone will get on board and some people will disappoint. But this transformation of work is worth taking that risk. This group of managers has a vision of a workplace that is good for everyone working in it and good for their company. They say HPWP changes people and they could not go back to the old way of managing. I am inspired by their commitment, their vision and their heart. I too want this to become the new norm for work.
This blog is part of the Peaceful Revolution series that explores innovative ideas to strengthen America's families through public policies, business practices, and cultural change. Done in collaboration with MomsRising.org, read a new post here each week.