Competitive success is usually the result of doing the many varied jobs required to manufacture, market, and sell a product, on a day-to-day basis, better than your competitors. Each competitor has basically the same manufacturing technology, marketing strategy, and selling tools available to them, whether the tools are a new plant, distribution capability, new product line, or the latest computer technology. Other than some of the ultra-high-tech companies, there is no secret weapon or magic formula known only to one. The same tools are available to everyone in most American industry and can be bought o the shelf. To beat the competition when using similar tools and state-of-the-art technology, you must do each step of the job better than your competition and produce a lower cost product, with quality acceptable to the market and sold/ delivered to the customer when he wants it, in a professional manner.
There are four main points to this model. These are the following:
1. Hire quality employees at all levels, 2. Provide quality training and coaching for all employees, 3. Build a quality work environment (where you work), 4. Encourage quality performance (what you do). One thing all four points have in common is that they are all management’s responsibility. Only management can make these things happen. When there is a problem in the workplace, it can generally be traced back to issues in one of these four points.
Point 1 addresses the gray, philosophical area of people, and attempting to get mature, responsible people on the payroll at all levels in your organization or department. To me, this is the most important piece of the puzzle. Either you are stepping into a position and already have a team in place, or you are starting fresh and hiring a staff. At one time or another, you will be hiring employees; some will say that they can do this by “gut feel”. If you choose to go this route, you will usually be making a big mistake. Hiring, like most other management activities, will be done better or worse depending on the amount of time and effort you put into the process.
Point 2 involves both training and coaching. As you know, these are two different activities. Training is a more formal, typically classroom approach to learning. Coaching is the day-today process of helping your employees improve their skill levels in their current position. Both of these activities are vitally important to all employees, especially to the new hire. Point 3 pertains to management’s responsibility to build a quality work environment for all employees. A large percentage of the HR problems management encounters everyday can be traced back to discrepancies in the work environment. The work environment has a definite impact on how well an employee is able to perform his/her job. A quality work environment will enhance the opportunity for the employee to provide quality performance, while a negative work environment will hamper performance. When you think about it, many employees spend more of their waking hours in the workplace than they do at home or anywhere else.
The work environment is defined by the following five factors:
1. Working Conditions, 2. Coworker Relationships, 3. Money and Benefits, 4. Policies and Procedures, 5. Supervision This is where your employees “live” for eight to ten hours per day, so obviously it is very important to them. Only management has the power/money to improve it. It costs a lot of money to create a great work environment. If done correctly, it supports management’s expectations for great performance. Point 4 involves management’s key role of encouraging quality performance from all employees, through proper management/ motivation techniques. As the work environment is related to the “job setting” or “where” the employee works, this section pertains to “the job itself ” or “what” the employee does. If a manager has implemented the first three points of this management model, successfully, all they ill have accomplished is having spent company money. Although, I would say that it was money well spent, there must be some sort of return. Competition in today’s marketplace is stronger than ever, causing profit margins to be under pressure. In order to protect margins under these conditions, you must maximize your assets, including your employees. You can no longer afford to employ a person for the use of their “back”, and ignore their “mind”. You must manage the work environment, so that your employees will help you manage the business. Thus, making their individual jobs more challenging and rewarding through participation, which results in a feeling of ownership.
Encouraging quality performance is defined by
the following five f actors:
1. Challenging Work, 2. Opportunity for Achievement, 3. Recognition, 4. Responsibility, 5. Growth and Development One of the keys to point 4 is that it will only be totally effective if we have done the first three points correctly. If we have hired quality employees, provided them with proper training and coaching, and given them an excellent work environment, that enhances their opportunity to achieve personal/professional and company goals. We then have the ability to ask them for their head as well as their back. In other words, we have taken care of them and now we expect them to perform at peak levels and be willing to go the extra mile for you and the company. I believe that this is one of the biggest challenges of all, since it is one of the most important keys to being successful. It is a difficult concept for many supervisors to accept, understand and implement, primarily since it involves allowing subordinates to share in some activities that usually are in the domain of the supervisor. Best of luck as you continue your journey to become a great manager and climb your career ladder.