Richard, boss machine tender for a paper mill in Manitoba, Canada, told Session 7A of the Leadership Development Lab:
"About three weeks ago, I was asked by my Superintendent to get the showers turned back on, for the #2 paper machine presses. Having the showers off was causing lots of problems; drop-offs, more shutdowns, too caustic, and loss of felts. This of course slows down production and drives up maintenance and material costs. I proceeded to ask my Machine Tender to do what he could to get the pickup showers turned back on. The Machine Tender on this machine has been known to be very resistant and confrontational. Well the excuses started to fly – 'they don't work', 'tried it before', 'they cause breaks', and on and on. I then decided, to try some empowering coaching. I said, 'Richard, I know you're one of the best machine tenders we have and you have, obviously tried in the past to make the showers work.' I then said, 'I have some ideas you may not have tried. May I mention them?' He begrudgingly said yes. Then I told him of a couple of things he hadn't brought up earlier. He said he would go and see if my ideas might work, saying 'I guess it's worth a try.' Well, within 30 minutes, the pickup shower was on without any of the problems and they ran well for the rest of the shift. Later in the shift when I saw him, he thanked me and said getting the shower back on would make his and my job a lot easier. I told him, when we work together toward a common goal, it is achievable and that we do work well together. He was very happy with the comments and agreed with me. He now seems much more cooperative and we are treating each other more much more respectfully."
"The lesson I learned from this experience is that even when I feel out of my comfort zone, if I use the Leadership Principles and empowering coaching approach we have been learning, anything is possible with all types of people. The payoffs can be enormous for all concerned."
"The action I call you to take is go outside your comfort zone and show respect; be respectful toward everyone on your team. Listen to others and don't be afraid to try different solutions to perplexing problems."
"The benefit you will gain is mutual respect. Your people will respect you and want to work cooperatively together with you and others. They will be willing to help out and suggest solutions more readily. Everyone will feel better, and your production and efficiency will improve."