Asking Your Crew to Brainstorm Ideas Can Help Solve Problems and Improve Morale
Sean, foreman for a masonry contractor in Battle Ground, WA, told Session 4B of Turbo's Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
"Over the last few weeks, my crew have brought to my attention that some of the proper tools and materials needed to perform the day's work were not getting loaded into the crew vehicles and delivered to our job sites. Our crews were arriving at the job and then realizing they needed a certain tool or product that was still at the warehouse or hadn't gotten picked up from our distributors. This had the negative effect of costing us wasted trips. Of course this was frustrating to our crews and damaging to morale and productivity. It made my crew leads feel foolish, our crews feel abandoned, and it made management look incompetent.
"I decided to use the brainstorming technique I had learned in the Leadership Development Lab (LDL) and asked the crew for their ideas on how to solve this problem. The crew gave me many more ideas than I could have possibly thought of on my own. We decided to purchase Boogie boards to put in our crew vehicles so anyone at any time could write down what special tools were needed for the next day and what materials we were low on or had run out of.
"Our crew leads are now reviewing the list before leaving the warehouse in the morning and we have become much more efficient in getting the correct tools and materials to our job sites. The cost of purchasing the Boogie boards was paid off the moment I handed them to our crews because I had just validated their ideas.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is to listen to my employees. By listening, I learned that there are more solutions to our problem than I ever realized. I also discovered a great way to empower my crews. I learned that using Leadership Principle #8 "Let it Be Their Idea" gives my crews a sense of ownership that helps to motivate them to greater engagement. The action I call you to take is to listen to your employees and validate their ideas. Give everyone a voice because everyone wants to be heard, everyone wants to know they count and they are more than just a hand. The benefit you will gain is you will improve your processes and practices and you will be more productive with a loyal crew to beat the bid."
I love this story because it proves that we don't need to always invest in capital equipment or expensive tools to improve our productivity. Sometimes all it takes is listening to our team and doing the little things that can make a big difference.
Fall Leadership Development Labs are forming now in Eugene, Wilsonville, Salem and Vancouver.