I was listening recently to an interesting Nova Science Now podcast which noted that scientists can’t account for the vast majority of the matter and energy in our universe. For lack of a better term, we call this unknown “dark matter”� or “dark energy.” I began asking: “How much dark matter or energy exists in our businesses, especially when it comes to managing the workforce?”� We’re certainly aware of “what’s there,”� but what effort have we made to tap into the unknown or unrecognized. As Einstein so eloquently reminded us, matter is a subset of energy. In fact, pretty much everything is. So, where’s the hidden, untapped, and potentially lucrative energy that exists in your business? How would we even find out?
These thoughts come to mind:
- Start with something as basic as an employee survey. Have you done one lately? By asking questions, we can begin to get information. Unfortunately, many companies don’t take this first step because they’re either worried about this being a waste of time and money, or they might get answers that they don’t really want to deal with. Neither objection makes sense. If you’e not willing to survey all of your employees, then survey a representative group and see if the time and money was worth the insight gathered. Draw from the surveys found on HR That Works and see the article below.
- Create mandatory suggestion systems. The Total Quality Management process requires feedback loops. For example, Dr. Deming encouraged managers to engage in kaizen, otherwise known as total quality circles; or as I might say, a good suggestion system. This was mandated on a regular basis. Encouraging engineers and others to think about how they could do their jobs more effectively led to continual improvement in quality.
- Have deep one-on-one discussions. Managers and leaders often shy away from real dialogue. For example, how many managers do you know who will ask employees how they can manage better? Spending only five minutes with an employee can reveal a great deal of hidden information.
- Bring in an outsider; outsiders can see things about your company that you can’t see for yourself. This holds true whether the outsider is a consultant, new employee, client, customer, or vendor. Ask them to tell you what they see about your company that you might not be able to see for yourself.