Quantifiable ResultsFeb 21, 2023
With the importance of a “realistic, clear-eyed, complete assessment of the current state” in mind, I’ll challenge you to get really honest with yourself… Do you have that kind of clarity for what your current costs are in areas like turnover, productivity, or downtime? And I mean the total costs involved in each, not just the simple ones that show up when you submit an expense report…
If you’ve taken those numbers I shared before from the Gallup study citing BLS turnover data seriously, and I believe they should grab everyone’s attention even though I struggle now to picture many organization’s with an average pay as low as the the $35k that study referenced, you’re on board with me that we all do indeed face significant profitability killers in our organizations! The hard reality is that establishing true baseline numbers showing the actual cost of things like turnover, downtime, and less than optimal productivity requires a ton of work. And once we have that data, it can be just as difficult to identify the root cause(s).
In all the years I worked in behavior-based safety, I was nearly always part of the team that conducted incident investigations following injuries or significant damage to equipment. One of the tools we used during those investigations was called the “5 Why Method of Problem Solving,” based on the idea that the immediate response given as the reason for doing something may not be the real reason. In fact, I’ve heard similar approaches taught in sales training too, but now’s not the time for that… Through an incident investigation, our goal was to dig as deep as we possibly could so we could uncover every possible issue or scenario that contributed to the incident with hopes of preventing similar incidents from happening in the future, in our facility as well as other facilities throughout the company.
We did this with injuries and with significant quality issues because those were so visible, but I can’t think of a single time where we applied this approach to turnover, downtime, or productivity… While it may have required six or seven Why’s instead of just five, I’m convinced that we could have identified some major contributing factors to each of those things! I remember so many scenarios where individuals missed their monthly productivity numbers, which typically led to some sort of disciplinary action. Fingers were frequently pointed at equipment and material issues but rarely at anything that was actually within the control of the person in question, nevermind that those same individuals were often the ones who were out of the assigned work areas for 15-20 minutes of every hour!
The cold, hard truth is that it’s far more comfortable assigning blame to an object than accepting how our behaviors impact results. The idea holds true for measuring increased (or decreased) performance when a physical change is made in a process or the equipment that’s used in the process. With each of those factors in place, compounded by a society that seems increasingly focused on avoiding responsibility in every possible situation, I suppose I shouldn’t be all that surprised when I hear someone say “I don’t have time for the touchy-feely stuff…” Oh, and even when we are willing to accept responsibility and change our behavior, we’ll need to sustain the change long enough to get measurable results. Remember, you might build 1,000 bridges before you’re ever known as a bridge builder!
When we’re willing to dig deep enough to uncover the behaviors that are indeed contributing to that lost profitability, and we’re willing to accept responsibility for making some changes, we’ll be pointed in the right direction. This can impact every aspect of our organization, as long as we set clear expectations for measurable results so that’s where we’ll pick up next time…