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Changing the Workplace Culture

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jpanarra

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I started at a new position as a manufacturing department supervisor/process engineer back in August. In 6 short months I was able to change the workplace culture, improve production output, and improved employee morale. Changing something that people have developed habits around is no small feat. I wanted to share a bit how I did this.

Workplace Culture is what I believes the environment and the behaviorism of your employees. Changing things with other people tends to start with one thing, Respect.

Respect -
Thinking back in my career, my favorite places to work were where my boss and colleagues treated each other with a level of mutual respect. I had a circumstance a few months ago where one employee was temperamental and would lash-out to others in the department. This person’s behavior would include yelling, swearing, and degrading other employees and it would ripple out to others. I gave her the opportunity to improve, but when someone is stuck in that mindset you have to let them go to take control of the workplace culture.

Stay In Touch -
My role has grown to the point where I don’t exactly have the handle on the day-to-day issues with my operators and team leaders. This is due to me working with production control, continuous improvement projects, and meeting with upper management. I set up a morning and afternoon meeting where the team leader, myself, and sometimes the operators. This way they can share with me their concerns and I can let them in the loop of what's going on throughout the company.

Acknowledgement -
Many times I've seen people go above and beyond and turn bitter because nobody gave them credit or even noticed the change. This might be a little different for us entrepreneurs because we can see things coming in the timeline of years. We live in the world of people that live the status quo, morale improves when you give them credit for doing the right things. The hard part about this is to stay attentive, take notice when things change, and find out who is behind the changes and give them the credit.

Listen -
I realize that I’m Deaf, ironically i believe this is why I’m a very good listener. Listening to my employees was critical for me to change the workplace culture so quickly. Keeping myself open to listen to employee suggestions to help improve their working situation makes me an even better manager. Most people want to improve and make their jobs easier while maintaining the quality they take pride in.


The fastest way to have your team grow whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, manager, etc… is to acknowledge that your job is to remove the obstacles that your employees face on a regular basis so they can do their jobs better.
 

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amp0193

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I've made lots of mistakes in this area this year:

Being so out of touch that 2 employees had a door-slamming screaming argument, which was the culmination of 4 months of building tension.

One employee built this whole inventory database system, and then we never used it. I actually never even knew he did it. He shut down for a month, and stopped giving shits, until I figured out why and apologized to him, and put it into use.


Things I do now:
  • Make employee concerns top priority. More important than customer concerns. Your PTO balance got messed up? I'm dropping everything to get this taken care of asap. You need a tool? We're getting the tool.
  • Weekly staff meetings. Aligns everyone to the goal, and we focus on projects/problems and put our heads together.
  • Make it a point to talk to everyone, every day. Say hello when I walk in. Engage them in a personal conversation.
  • Acknowledge when they do things well.
  • Admit when I mess up, and apologize for the way that it's affecting them.
  • Give them ownership of their work. I don't let them ask me open-ended questions. I make them come to me with "here's the problem. here's what I think we should do. What do you think?"
 
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jpanarra

jpanarra

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I've made lots of mistakes in this area this year:

Being so out of touch that 2 employees had a door-slamming screaming argument, which was the culmination of 4 months of building tension.

One employee built this whole inventory database system, and then we never used it. I actually never even knew he did it. He shut down for a month, and stopped giving shits, until I figured out why and apologized to him, and put it into use.


Things I do now:
  • Make employee concerns top priority. More important than customer concerns. Your PTO balance got messed up? I'm dropping everything to get this taken care of asap. You need a tool? We're getting the tool.
  • Weekly staff meetings. Aligns everyone to the goal, and we focus on projects/problems and put our heads together.
  • Make it a point to talk to everyone, every day. Say hello when I walk in. Engage them in a personal conversation.
  • Acknowledge when they do things well.
  • Admit when I mess up, and apologize for the way that it's affecting them.
  • Give them ownership of their work. I don't let them ask me open-ended questions. I make them come to me with "here's the problem. here's what I think we should do. What do you think?"
Thanks for sharing, It can be hard sometimes because they will never care as much as you do. Once I accepted the fact that the employees will never care nor put as much effort into something the owners will. It becomes a lot easier to deal with the people because to them its just a job when it comes to us its our 'baby'.

Giving them ownership which is what i do with my operators and their manufacturing lines. I emphasize that the line is not mine but theirs, look at it in a way how can you make it better while keeping quality up. Employee 'Ownership' can have some serious positive impact because you give the opportunity to be an 'intrapreuner' and people tend to do more with that mindset.
 

amp0193

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Employee 'Ownership' can have some serious positive impact because you give the opportunity to be an 'intrapreuner' and people tend to do more with that mindset.
Yes, I've told my production manager from day 1: This is your warehouse, not mine. Organize it, run it how you want. As long as our labor spend is efficient, and products are getting shipped out on time... I'm happy.

The next thing I'll be doing to increase ownership, is to do so literally through vesting stock options or some other means of giving them small amounts of equity.

That should incentivize them some, especially the closer we get to an acquisition payday.
 
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jpanarra

jpanarra

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Yes, I've told my production manager from day 1: This is your warehouse, not mine. Organize it, run it how you want. As long as our labor spend is efficient, and products are getting shipped out on time... I'm happy.

The next thing I'll be doing to increase ownership, is to do so literally through vesting stock options or some other means of giving them small amounts of equity.

That should incentivize them some, especially the closer we get to an acquisition payday.
That's a great idea, if i were you I'll give some sort of ownership to all employees based on a contingency offer such as work for us for 2 years and you'll get a certain number of stocks every following year after that.

I'll have to go back and read your gold thread but if i recall correctly this would be your 2nd business at scale right?
 

amp0193

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I'll have to go back and read your gold thread but if i recall correctly this would be your 2nd business at scale right?
My last business I sold, but didn't have any employees. It was really efficient and automated and simple.


This one is very resource and manpower intensive. Polar opposite.
 

Kid

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Great points. Especially acknowledge and respect - i read once a post from rather good employee that he fully automated his job's task. He got fired in return. I bet all of remaining employees didn't do jack to be more efficient at work after that.
 
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jpanarra

jpanarra

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Great points. Especially acknowledge and respect - i read once a post from rather good employee that he fully automated his job's task. He got fired in return. I bet all of remaining employees didn't do jack to be more efficient at work after that.
Thank you!

They should've promoted him and had him figure out how to automate more things.. Some people just don't have the vision.
 

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