I want to tell you the story of two manufacturing companies. Both companies were subsidiaries of large global companies, owned by even larger foreign companies. Both companies had been in business for several decades, were well recognized and respected in their industries, and both had under 500 employees, but they differed in how they treated their employees and the value of the production their employees delivered.
Company 1 – enticed people to look for change, in their Kazan business model. The reward was a person entered into a draw for a significant amount of money. Several people entered with ideas that produced small changes in savings. One person created a huge $10,000 yearly savings by finding a change that could be easily and inexpensively implemented. That person did not ‘win’ the draw. Only the person that won the draw was recognized for their efforts, with the prize money. Needless to say, the person that submitted the great cost-saving suggestion chose to never go above and beyond again.
This company got to a point where they could not justify this one location and they had to sell the plant, their equipment, and some of their clients. People did not stay because they loved the money, nor because they had great satisfaction in their work, they stated because they liked the money.
Company 2 – Came to people with a significant change that had to happen and asked all the people to find a way to help. The global company was selling the division of a small, autonomous business for conflict reasons. This business mostly ran independently from the larger foreign corporation. Upper management of this small company was given permission to handle this change the way they have always communicated with their team, as if they were talking to leaders of change. They did not hide anything. They answered every question, held many meetings for updates, took all suggestions, and supported the transition of employees to other positions or companies if they wanted.
People stepped up with ideas and connections. The employees even worked to find a way to buy out the business on their own. Management saw their people the same way they saw themselves, as the change makers inside the business. When it came time to close the company, there was no grievances, no arguments, no mass exodus, and no loss of production. Employees stayed to the end, doing their best work until the last days.
This company knew how to implement change without creating chaos and stress. The company was sold in parts, many people moved on and all continue to speak of their time in this company as one of the greatest places they had ever worked.
Great leaders don’t just pay for good ideas, they support great leadership in all levels of the business.