I have recently helped an organization to get a certification, because of its performance and practices regarding Lean and Six Sigma. This certification is provided by the corporate office to certify the level each of its facilities held regarding Lean and Six Sigma. I helped this organization coaching and facilitating most of all. But it was the supervisors effort, motivation and the associates interest which made possible to achieve this recognition. They all made a great effort but one supervisor made an extraordinary effort to encourage his people to, not only practice, but to investigate further and teach others, giving the opportunity for them to give small presentations. Allowing the people to grow and learn.
I made a public display about the situation described above. The supervisor was overwhelmed, and thanked me, for recognising his efforts. I am not his direct supervisor, but i believe that we should give credit to people, when something extraordinary happens or when something outstanding is encouraged. During the certification the plant manager conducted the gemba walk and when the certification was over, and the award was given, nobody was even close to it, as the manager took it and never let it go. I notice that all VPs and Directors started sending congratulations for the facility and the manager, but also notice that nobody forwarded those notes to the supervisors or the people who actually performed the job every day. I understood that as well as front line workers, some managers also need recognition. The problem I see, is when they get recognition, but do not share it with the rest of the team.
I think that recognition is powerful, because through recognition people find purpose. They feel they are contributing to the team. It was Dr. Deming who said:
If someone can make a contribution to the company he feels important.
This is a great thought. Simple, powerful, and yet sometimes we fail to recognize when people does something big, and deserves to be congratulated. How many times do we congratulate people at job? What about our own family? What about our wife or parents? Of course, there is a reason why we usually focus on negative things, instead of focusing and promote the good things in life. This is true specially in organizations where culture has been hierarchical and do not promote development of people. But instead promote growth of managers only. Lean approach, is completely different. Lean is about people and about trust in people. Sometimes we tend to prejudge people, thinking they cannot innovate or do things differently, just because their rol isn´t within management. But Dr. Deming also said:
Innovation comes from people who take joy in their work.
To build joy in every workers job, we need to start practicing respect for people. Respect for people involves people at the top too. But we should´t forget front line workers. Respect people´s opinion, challenge them to think, to learn, to experiment, to grow, to improve. That´s respect for people. Listen to their opinions. Have an open mind to accept that managers aren´t always right, and realizing that workers know more about the job, than we can imagine.
Dr. Deming was a great example of this quote. He worked until the last moment of his life. He died at age of 93 and he was still working. This clearly shows that he had a great joy in what he was doing. So, If we want to turn our companies in sources of innovation, if we want to make a contribution and take pride of our work, we better start recognizing people. Don´t know how? How about start with your children, wife or a friend. Lets start identifying those small things we all do everyday, that really make a difference. Soon, recognition will become a habit.
Thank´s for reading. I would love to read your thoughts. Don´t be shy, and leave a comment down here.