• Bill Greider

Turning THEY into Us

Ever since I was a kid, I always heard adults talk about the mystical "THEY" (akin to Bigfoot and The Loch Ness Monster).

"THEY say that margarine is better for you than butter."

"I read somewhere that THEY are now saying smoking isn't good for you."

"THEY're saying that we're in for a very cold winter."

"They say the Mets are going to be really good this year."

I always imagined a big building where all of the THEYS met for work every day, and they basically pontificated and theorized about.......well, everything. Then they released the minutes to their meetings, and some of the minutes would be mentioned at say, the family 4th of July picnic, or over coffee. Once someone mentioned that it was THEY that said it, all we can do is nod our heads and realize it was definitely gospel.

Then, when I grew up, I realized that there was a THEY Department in my own company! As I grew up some more and became a "consultant", I realized that many companies also had well developed THEY Departments. Let me give you one example:

" I told them about that problem three years ago, they don't listen."

"I knoew the dooflicker was loose and smelled smoke 2 weeks ago, I told them, but of course they didn't listen."

"Bill, don't mean to be a debbydowner with you and your lean, but THEY won't change."

"Or, they tried something like this a few years ago, went nowhere, ended up with layoffs."

"I've been here since 1980, do you think they would listen to me? They never even ask me what I think about things! I just work here. Is it Friday yet?"

Then this happens. One of THEY will realize people have become clock punchers, so they think hanging a suggestion box will get the ball rolling in the right direction. "I know they don't think we listen to them, but maybe if they talk to us anonymously we will really listen well."

Suggestion boxes don't usually work, because people anonymously will write something on a card, hoping they will read it and consider it. And, more often then not, the suggestions get filtered by one of them, nothing happens, and the suggestion box then collects mold.

One of the most profound things I ever heard as a business owner if that Toyota measures morale by the number of employee suggestions. The more suggestions (1000s per day) implemented, the happier people are. This actually speaks to Maslow's hierarchy of human needs (innovating and problem solving sit at the top).

Morale soars when everyone realizes that THEY is US!!!! To achieve this, all we really need to do is master one of the most difficult management maneuvers.......listening. Listen by practicing humble inquiry and when people are telling you what the problems are, involve them in finding the solutions. Take notes!!

Make sure all of your managers, supervisors, foremen, directors, etc. do the same thing. It won't take long before they and them become we and us.

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