Harvey Mackay: Businesses thrive by making employees feel valued
BY HARVEY MACKAY United Feature Syndicate
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 5:12 PM
According to various surveys, seven of eight people go home every night with a feeling that they work for an organization that doesn't care about them. That equates to 130 million people in the United States who go home with a sense that they don't matter.
Enter Robert Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a leading provider of manufacturing technology, engineering and consulting solutions. He is a disciple of Truly Human Leadership, a leadership model that is all about people, purpose and performance. His vision is to send people home every night feeling fulfilled.
Chapman is focused on allowing employees to discover, develop, share and be appreciated for their gifts. Employees are routinely solicited for their ideas.
In the company's leadership model, it attempts to shine a light in every corner of its business and look for the goodness in people. To help, it has created several award programs. One award is the Guiding Principles of Leadership SSR Award. Chapman is a car enthusiast and had a Chevrolet SSR truck that he offered to one of his plants. The winner gets to drive it for a week.
"Everybody is nominating people," Chapman said. "In a plant of 450 people, we had 120 to 180 nominees. Think of this: People took the time to talk about the goodness in other people."
Chapman was visiting one of the company's recent plant acquisitions in Green Bay, Wis. He asked an employee what he thought about the new leadership model.
He said: "I'm now talking to my wife more."
Chapman said, "I don't understand."
The employee explained: "Do you know what it feels like to work in a place where you walk in in the morning and you punch a card to verify that you came in on time? You walk to your workstation and people tell you what to do. They never ask you what you think. You do 10 things right, and you never hear a word. But you get one thing wrong, and you never hear the end of it. You go home and you don't feel very good about yourself. And when you don't feel very good about yourself, you're not really there for your family."
When the recession hit Barry-Wehmiller hard in 2008-09, Chapman had a tough decision to make. Orders dropped 35 percent. Employees were concerned about layoffs. He reasoned, "What would a loving family do if a family member was under stress? Everybody would take a little pain so that the family member wouldn't be devastated."
So the company and employee leaders came up with a plan where all employees would take off four weeks without pay. The company also suspended its 401(k) match.
"Employees didn't feel they did it to make the company more profitable," Chapman said. "They felt they did it to save somebody else's job."
When the company rebounded quicker than anticipated, the company not only reinstated the 401(k) match but paid back the missed company match.
Just another way to reward employees.
Mackay's Moral: People are judged by the company they keep. Companies are judged by the people they keep.
Original Print Headline: Making people feel valued
Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." To send him a question or comment, go to tulsaworld.com/mackayfeedback.