Tim Bryce: It's a good time to resolve to make the workplace better

Last January I wrote a column titled, “Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Back to Work We Go” in which I gave advice to managers about making changes in the office that would help employees be more productive.

I discussed how some simple modifications in the office’s physical appearance can have a positive effect. Here, I would like to outline some attitudinal changes by office workers, including both management and the work force.

First, middle management should learn to manage more and supervise less (e.g., micromanage). They should treat workers like professionals, empower them to perform on their own, and try to stay out of their way.

The only time the manager should become involved is when a problem arises that cannot be solved by the workers, assigning new projects, and holding workers accountable for their actions. To make this effective, a reporting system must be devised to keep management apprised of the status of projects and activities.

This, of course means a Theory Y form of management where employees are managed from the “bottom-up” as opposed to autocratic rule from the top down.

Such an approach will cause workers to become more resourceful, innovative, and develop a sense of ownership over their work. That, in turn, promotes corporate loyalty.

Management also should manage the workplace and corporate culture to promote a professional atmosphere, high ethics, teamwork and courteous behavior. That strategy will cause workers to become more disciplined and develop a sense of pride in workmanship.

Two other ideas come to mind: first, making sure the staff understands the history of the business and their chosen craft; second, teach employees to “think big” by sharing with them the big picture of the business.

For example, if they are charged with a small part of a system, have them learn about the entire system so they understand how their role affects others.

Both middle management and workers should also be aware of the amount of money required to operate their section of the business. This means they should participate in developing a budget.

By doing so, it makes them conscious of profit and loss, which helps to focus their priorities and incentives.

Workers also need to adjust their attitude. Instead, of watching the clock, they should learn more about the products they are producing. In other words, they need to be equally cognizant of quality as well as speed.

They also should project a professional image by being courteous, ethical, neat in appearance and a team player. Their motto should be: “What I do not know, I will not fabricate an excuse but endeavor to learn the answer; what I do know, I will share with others.”

Senior workers should mentor young workers and be smart enough to listen to the younger workers who may have learned a new trick or two, particularly in the area of technology.

Conversely, younger workers should listen to their elders but challenge the status quo to seek better ways for performing tasks. They should constantly strive to improve their skills and learn the corporate history.

After all, there is no need to reinvent the wheel or commit the mistakes of their predecessors.

A little attitude adjustment and some resolutions for the new year can work wonders. As I mentioned last year, January is the time for management to implement innovations. Such changes should capture the attention of the work force and reinvigorate them for the year.


Tim Bryce is a writer and managing director of M&JB Investment Co. of Palm Harbor, Florida. He has more than 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com. Column courtesy of Context Florida.


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