Train and trust to Turbo Charge
Bruce, shift engineer for a paper mill in Manitoba, Canada, told Session 3B of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In 2006, during a regular maintenance day, the Provencal inspector discovered several leaks on a tube in the #5 boiler. After informing me, the general manager and the government boiler inspector told me to find an outside contractor and bring them in to do the repairs. I reminded them that our welders had just completed welding certification training so they could perform these kinds of repairs. I asked our head welder to look at the job. After checking it out, he came back and said he believed he could successfully complete the welds. He said he would know right away if it was not going correctly. He asked us to give him a chance to make the needed repairs. After some discussion, I was able to convince the general manager to let our welders do the job.
"As soon as our crew had completed all of the welds, I called in the Provencal boiler inspector. When he arrived and carefully looked over all of the finished repairs, he said, 'I am surprised. I didn't think your crew could do it!'
"The repairs were completed successfully in a shorter time than it would have taken with an outside contractor, and we did it as a part of the shut with no lost production. I could see the pride my crew took in the job, the sense of ownership, and the confidence it gave my millwright. I could even see his sense of growth and achievement leak over to the whole crew. (no pun intended!)
"The lesson I learned from this experience is to believe in my employees' ideas and abilities. I learned the importance of providing opportunities and challenges for my crew members to grow in their contribution to the success of our enterprise. The action I call you to take is to
train and trust your workforce. Demonstrate your trust by training and listening to their ideas and encouraging them to expand what they do beyond their current circle of contributions. The benefit you will gain is a happier, more productive, empowered workforce. You will build pride into their work, your productivity will increase, and you will gain their discretionary effort."
One of the four measures of successful leadership is gaining the discretionary effort and engagement of your team. Discretionary effort is playing over the line. It goes beyond what a person is paid to do. There is no way that your organization can possibly succeed if team members are just playing up to the line. Your business will be successful to the degree that you and every member of your leadership team are successful in gaining discretionary effort. Your competitors are faced with the same challenge.
This is the beauty of it – everyone is looking for a worthy cause. Helping your team feel that they are contributing to a worthy cause will satisfy one of their deepest desires, and at the same time, you gain a competitive advantage. So here's your challenge – train and trust your people. You will gain their hearts, not just their heads.