Creating a sense of pride among employees

Creating a sense of pride among employees

Productivity pill: Companies must aid employees with the requisite tools for doing a good job

Employees tend to rise above their own self-imposed limitations, if only they see good reasons for doing so. Though everyone cannot become the top-most business tycoon or chairman of a multi-national company, it is possible that persons need challenges to get the best out of them for the good of the company.

However, one has to consider ‘self-concern’ which cannot be ignored. Whether a manager accepts this fact or not, an employee works for himself first and then to the organisation which has hired him. There is no reason why these two cannot be reconciled. For instance, every employee knows that an organisation that has made profit from year-to-year is certainly going to give something in return to the employees by way of increments, bonus, other benefits and bonus shares. On the other hand, it is not possible for employees of a loss-making unit to expect the organisation to offer increments, fringe benefits and bonus shares as the organisation is struggling to keep afloat.

Each individual sets his own standard of performance. If this is in par with the organisation’s standard, there is no problem. However, if the performance falls below the standard set by the organisation then, sooner or later, that person has to come up to the required standard or face disciplinary action, ultimately, being asked to leave the organisation. So employees tend to keep their performance standard as close to the one that is considered acceptable. The management could ask the employees to raise the bar for performance above the present level by offering monetary compensation. Some see this as a ploy to extract more work while paying a pittance. If the labour union were involved, then it would obstruct such a proposal to improve productivity tooth and nail.

After prolonged discussions and many strikes, agitations and loss of productivity hours, the unions might fall in line, extracting a higher monetary compensation than what was offered by the management in the first instance. That is the kind of tussle that goes on at the time of management-union agreement once in four or five years. In those organisations where labour unions do not exist, improvement in productivity becomes easier. But it all depends on how employees are approached for improvement. “From next month, the productivity will increase by 10 per cent. Suitable compensation would be paid to all those who achieve such a standard of productivity,” would be officially okay, but not the best way to achieve better productivity. The management needs to do much homework before they spring a surprise on their employees on the matter of productivity or as a matter of fact any change the management wants to implement with all good intentions. Employees want to be in the loop before the management introduces any major changes. They then feel part of the decision-making process rather than as a fiat from the management.

A management fiat for employees to improve productivity is taken half-heartedly as they have no choice. However, if the management is forthcoming why productivity should be improved could convince the doubting Thomases.

Moreover, if a carrot were held before employees that there is something good in return for their cooperation and wholehearted support, it would go a long way in improving productivity of employees, though there could be a few exceptions that are not convinced with the management’s desire for productivity improvement.

Another important reason, why employees could be convinced for the productivity improvement would be the stiff competition from competitors who would be breathing down the necks of not-so-productive companies. Employees should be told ‘either improve or perish’ being the stark reality of tough competition in the market place.

How to make employees rise above their own self-imposed limitations on performance and rise to higher levels has engaged the attention of management experts all over the world. Without willing and active cooperation employees, little can be achieved. We need employees to take pride in whatever they are doing and accept willingly that they would try to excel in their job. That is the creed of excellence, which an organisation is proud of.
The attempt is to make common people do uncommon things, in the best interests of the company they are serving. For this to happen, the leader, manager and supervisor should be the shining example of the ‘creed of excellence’ so that others could follow.

Those persons in the higher hierarchy should set examples by doing jobs in the best possible manner and moreover not to accept short-cuts, cutting corners or a shoddy job, even if it meant redoing a job despite urgency of delivery and other commitments. If the lower staff comes to know that there is ‘zero tolerance’ for poor quality, then they would be extra careful in whatever they are doing. Thus a high quality standard could be maintained with the active participation of management. That is the only way of inculcating high quality culture in the organisation.

For an excellent job, a few prerequisites have to be met. The tools, processes, methods have to be right to produce objects that are in excellent condition. The employees need to be trained and motivated to get the job ‘right the first time and every time’.

Continuous upgradation of materials, processes, methods and training is a constant effort backed by a committed management. The employees need constant training and retraining, and should have high motivation to produce goods & services that excel in quality at optimum costs. The focus, as always, should be on the point of view of the ultimate consumer. It goes without saying that each and every employee of an organisation has to inculcate the creed of excellence otherwise the final product/service in the hands of the consumer may not be of the quality as desired by the consumer. A product may be very good as it leaves the factory but due to poor packing, handling, and transport, the product may not meet the needs of the consumer. That why an organisation must to take a holistic view of the quality from the design, manufacture, transport, commissioning, after-sales service, to end product life-cycle disposal.

Employees, in general, would like to take pride in whatever they do, if there is wholehearted cooperation and support from the top. It is up to the management to ensure that the creed of excellence is nurtured in the organisation not by mere words, but by deeds.

(The writer is Consultant Quality & Management)

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