Tim, head machine tender for a paper mill in northern Ontario, Canada, told Session 8B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"Last week, I was finishing my rounds and checking the log sheets on Paper Machine #4. When I checked the backtender's log, I told him that I noticed he hadn't filled out the second part of the log. Before I could even get to the 'What happened' part of the 7-step correction process out of my mouth, he started telling me that he didn't want to fill in the second round.
I listened because he was upset about his relief. He told me that for the past two days, he had spent hours working to improve the CD spreads. On the first day, after a few hours of hard work, he had managed to make a significant improvement. He maintained the improvement by keeping an eye on it through the rest of his shift. When he came in the next day, the spreads were almost as bad as they had been the day before, so he worked hard to improve them again. The following day when he came in, the spreads had been ignored again! He was upset that the other backtender got away with neglecting his job, so as long as his log was filled out, everything was okay. He thought that by not filling in his log, it would get Denis or Stephane's attention, then he could give them an earful. I told him that he could have just brought it up with either of them, or I could discuss it with the other backtender's supervisor. I told him
that by failing to fill in the log, he was drawing attention to the fact that he wasn't following our standards. I told him that the main reason for filling in the logs completely was to help track patterns that could help with future troubleshooting.Since he was convinced that this was the best way to get results, I didn't push back any further. I asked him if he would agree to fill the logs in now that he had 'proven his point' and he agreed. I told him that I recognized the excellent results he had achieved with the CD spreads, and that his improvements had been brought up at the HMT meeting.
The following day, Denis met with the backtender and commended him for the work he had done on the spreads. This meant a lot to him because he mentioned it to me as soon as I walked in that morning. He has completed his logs every day since!
The lesson I learned from this experience is that I don't always have to 'be right' to get the results we need. The action I call you to take is to utilize patience when holding people accountable to standards, and when necessary, compromise a little. The benefit you will gain is strong, respectful working relationships while achieving what you need in the long run."