Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Truth Will Set You Free - Or Increase Productivity

I had lunch today with a local plant manager who has been in the manufacturing industry for 30+ years. We talked about the economy and the impact it is having on our local companies. I am happy to report that for this particular company, they have been able to hold their own during this stressful time. Don't get me wrong, they are feeling the pressure and have slowed down, but he said they have no plans to lay anyone off.

Tell Them The Truth
When he arrived at the facility some years ago, they were not doing well financially. He went to the President with an idea that had worked for him with other companies: tell them the truth. He suggested gathering the employees together to tell them the honest truth about the financial picture. After some serious convincing, his President granted permission. The employees were shocked. They had no idea. Guess what happened? Productivity increased substantially. Of course a few changes in personnel helped as well, but by being upfront with the workforce and telling them straight up what the future looked like, it not only boosted productivity, but it also created trust between the men and women on the floor and management. He still holds these meetings today.
Taking Advantage of Downtime
Another piece of good advice he provided was to take advantage of slow times, if financially possible. He suggests cross-training and taking care of maintenance work that during the busy season may have been overlooked. It can be hard to find good people, so the last thing he said they want to do is layoff. According to him, firing someone is much easier because you know the employee brought it on themselves. But having to layoff good people when they have done nothing wrong is probably the worst thing he has had to do.
This month the Chamber's poll relates to the business outlook for 2009. If you would like to participate, go here. Look for the results in our December ActionNotes.

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