Tuesday, 27 April 2010

How visible is your leadership?

I was once working with a factory that made parts for cars. My assignment was to help them improve the quality of their products. The Senior Management Team had begun to put in place many of the critical ingredients of their strategy and were beginning to make progress. The workforce we unconvinced.

Over the course of several conversations it became clear that their doubt rested on what happened on Friday afternoons. "We know that the senior managers don't really mean all this stuff about quality because when push comes to shove at the end of the week, we ship the parts to keep the numbers up. We know that they will come back in a few weeks time under warranty." 

We took this message back to the senior managers who said this was not the case and they were totally committed to quality as evidenced by the number of posters they had put up. 

But then one day something significant happened. 

The Managing Director went down to the shop floor one Friday afternoon. He listened, he observed and he took action. "Stop the line - we have to sort this out!" 
It probably took all of 4 minutes for these words to echo around the plant. From that point onwards, whilst the quality strategy was never plain sailing, the workforce began to believe that it was there to stay. 

What are you going to do today? 

What have you already done?

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