I was in this bar the other night, hanging out with some friends. My friends left, but there was an interesting match on TV, so I decided to stay and see how it turned out. I didn’t even know that team was playing but that quickly turned into one of the more important things that night. As I was watching the game, I couldn’t help but notice all the other people that were paying really close attention to this. Most people could find this very fascinating. Of course, the game eventually ended, and everybody’s interest quickly fractionated into various splinters of interests. I started talking to a guy that I happened to be sitting next to at the bar. Funny that I didn’t notice him before.
We started talking about various things, sports, work, etc. He started telling me about his friend whose roommate just got this massive promotion at work. Massive promotions are pretty good when you can come across things like this. What had happened was this guy used to be a production worker in a factory that produced highly technical products that are used in various high-end electronics. Because of the nature of the work, and the small degree of error tolerances allowed in the manufacturing process, the work was sometimes a bit anxiety causing. One the one hand they had extremely tight technical specifications inside which they had to build a certain amount of products. On the other hand they had very important production thresholds they had to achieve on a consistent basis in order for the company to remain profitable. It was a business that had a very slim profit margin. And in today’s economy, I’m sure you can appreciate how important something like this is.
This guy had been working there for a while, and the management was a bit interesting. The production facility itself used to be part of another company, and they produced elements of a similar product. Then they initial company split up into different smaller groups, to try and maintain their profit, and the production factory was sold off completely to yet another company. Because the production process was very similar, the incoming management company didn’t change much.
While this didn’t present a problem to most of the workers, this guys friend had a bit of a problem. Just before the new management team took over, he had some ideas on how to promote the efficiency and consequently the profitability of the production line. He was just getting enough courage and confidence to suggest these to upper management when they made the change. At first he thought that he was just going to wait until things settled down, and then present these ideas to them. But then something interesting happened. Upper management just kept their hands off approach and was content to let the workers continue to produce, just like they had before. They didn’t have any meetings, or offer any insight or suggestions. It seemed to most of them that they were happy with the way things were. Which of course was fine for most people, because keeping things the way they were is very comforting to most people. Change is very scary to some. But this guys friend had an idea, and now he not only was unsure of whether or not his idea was going to be accepted, he wasn’t sure if his idea was even in line with what the new management team wanted to do. This was all very confusing. He had an idea, but wasn’t quite sure they would be open to hearing it.
For a while, this caused him some anxiety. He had all these ideas on how to make things better, but he didn’t know if he was supposed to voice them, or even if they would be accepted. He wasn’t content though, to keep things the way they were, because there’s no fun in that. He wanted to take things in a new direction, but the wanted to make sure that it was safe to suggest this new direction to management.
So after waiting several weeks, hemming and hawing, he finally thought to himself:
“You know what, what’s the worse that can happen? You have good ideas, you have an idea of what can make things better, if they don’t like your ideas, at least you will let them know that you want to make things better than they are. Because if one thing is certain in all this confusion, you can always improve things. And the more you improve things, the easier they become.”
So he finally strode into the management office, and whey they learned that he had some ideas of how to increase productivity, and therefore profits, they were all ears. What he thought was going to be a brief five or ten minute meeting turned into a three hour brainstorming session, with him at the controls. After the meeting, he got a good idea of where they wanted to take the company, and then gave some very good ideas on how they could easily get there. Soon he was promoted to a manager position, with his salary almost doubled. Now he is the new managing director of manufacturing engineering and design, something pretty good for a guy with only a high school education. And because of his ideas, the company is now extremely profitable, and they seek this guys opinions on all major decisions that upper management makes. Pretty good if you ask me.