Most “Chief Operating Officers” would love them – employees on the shop floor with biologically-enhanced capabilities. Much in the same way that Hollywood created films of super soldiers, like Bloodshot, Captain America and Universal Soldier, and then of course all the super-hero movies, company executives would love to create super-hero employees with the abilities to perform at above-optimal levels – resulting in higher productivity, less waste, more sophisticated problem-solving skills, etc. They would be delighted to have employees with laser focus, warp speed and super-human strength. This would make manufacturing a breeze and lower the production costs per widget. Company profitability would be enhanced and shareholders would be excited.
Although Chief Operating Officers can’t buy employees with biologically-enhanced capabilities off the shelf, they can, however, create the environment where their employees aspire to be super-heroes. This needed environment of care and opportunity is one that is deliberately and methodically developed and requires the involvement and commitment of all in leadership positions. This enabling environment is created by:
- Ensuring that company values drive decisions and behaviour – erratic leadership behaviour and knee-jerk impulsive decision-making introduces anxiety into the business. Employees need to find comfort in the knowledge that company values will always be upheld – “this is the way we do things around here”.
- Not tolerating mediocrity – setting an example of excellence, those in leadership should always strive for better ways of doing things and for thinking at higher levels. Mediocrity should never be rewarded.
- Communicating with clarity and authenticity – company messages should be unambiguous and sincere. Offer as much information as possible so that everyone knows how well the company is doing. Secrecy destroys trust.
- Inviting participation – leaders need to focus deliberately on including everyone in discussions, idea sharing, decision-making, etc. When employees co-create strategy and process improvements, a sense of ownership develops and a renewed energy is applied to production efforts.
- Exhibiting fairness – those occupying leadership positions should always demonstrate a measure of compassion for the human condition, but equally should be absolutely firm on performance expectations. This “no nonsense”, but caring, approach engenders trust amongst staff.
- Recognising achievement – acknowledgement (of discretionary effort, great successes, savings, better processes, waste reduction, etc.) should always be done publicly and linked to the mission, vision and strategy of the company. This assists employees with identifying with the company “big picture” and develops alignment of all departments to strategic direction.
- Eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy – unnecessary reports, old-fashioned processes and approvals, red tape, etc., should be discarded and replaced with modern accountability practices that engender trust.
- Providing efficient and effective resources – unreliable, ineffective and inadequate resources frustrate employees, causing them not to deliver their best. Never embarrass staff with equipment that is less than optimal.
- Being fully present – managers must “show up” at work and engage physically, mentally and emotionally with people and processes. Managerial “distance” creates uncertainty.
- Rewarding appropriately – the best possible salaries, bonuses and conditions of employment send all the right messages to staff – you are valued and we appreciate your efforts. Underpaying to cut costs results in high staff turnover.
While no-one is a biologically-engineered super-hero, most people aspire to be heroes in their respective careers, particularly when the corporate culture lays the foundation for super-hero growth. Leaders must put all the engagement building blocks in place to engender employee growth, commitment and discretionary effort.