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  • Ian Gregory


The word that should be associated with Retention and mostly isn’t - is CULTURE.

Culture is defined as: The way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time. In short it is who we are and how we do things. Organizations must be careful about how they address culture and how things are being done because if you, as an organization, are not deliberately training in the culture to your people, you can be assured that someone is, and maybe that someone isn’t who you would rather be teaching your people.

Culture is a funny thing because it can mean so many different things to different people. You have the capability to have as many cultures as you have leaders, and by leaders, I mean people who are titled or untitled, anyone who can change behavior either by the power conveyed by their position or the influence that they have built up with their co-workers over time, and those leaders can change the culture.

Ideally, there should be one main culture that supports the mission statement and incorporates any values or other rules of the organization, it should also incorporate a training aspect so that the new employees know what their rights, as well as their responsibilities, are.

Every employee should have the right to know exactly what is expected of them and what will happen to them if they don’t live up to their expectations. There will be another round of education for when that employee moves into their new department. Because there will be a new leader in the that department, it means that a different culture also will be present.

Now that culture shouldn’t differ to a great extent from department to department, but every leader has their own ideas about how best to get things done and unless you have a strong, clear message from above, there are going to be differences from department to department.

So why is this culture thing so important and how can we use it to our advantage in the workplace? Well, if retention is your goal, your people need to feel a sense of belonging to the organization. There are two things in the workplace that most, if not all, have a NEED for. They are that you feel you are doing something important and that your voice carries weight.

If you tell or teach someone in manufacturing that they are just a factory worker, easily replaceable and that anybody can do what they do, how engaged a worker would you think you are creating? Fully engaged, partially engaged or disengaged? Remember, partially engaged and disengaged employees cost the workplace between $450-$550 billion every year.

What I and every other business owner ever would hope is going on is that leadership is paying attention to their workers, their workspace and their organization. Their workers should know their value, not just monetarily, but by the impact on the world that your particular product has. We are working with a manufacturing company that makes a lot of things but are known for their chambers. When you see these chambers, you immediately see craftmanship, engineering and high standards. But what you don’t see is that they are made so well that NASA buys these and because of those very same three things just mentioned, NASA is able to conduct experiments and move the space program forward in ways they didn’t think possible not so very long ago.

So, what if that were conveyed to the workers, thanking them for making such an incredible contribution to the future, think you would be creating a better employee?

High standards are essential to the workplace, but so are the thanks that should be forthcoming for maintaining and even pushing those standards. We need to balance out the workplace so that it becomes unbalanced (what did he just say?). The workplace is full of mistakes and successes right? Everyday we fight to minimize the mistakes and maximize the successes. We do that by balancing out how we treat our employees.

Mistakes are tolerated as long as learning is taking place and mistakes aren’t being repeated. But by the same token, the successes are celebrated, they are held up as standards and as progress and they should come regularly, and they should be a big deal. If you balance out the behaviors of the leaders and they understand the reasons behind those behaviors, you can train them to unbalance the workplace in favor of success. Get it now?

We have a tough task ahead of us. The workplace, especially for manufacturing has changed. There are not lines of 10 people ready to replace every position available anymore, in fact many times there aren’t even one. Once again, change will rule the day and we must respond. Building a strong workforce, that feels like they are doing important work and that they are valued will always be the way to retain the best and the brightest. And while it may not be easy, it is essential we get to it. If you’re looking for help, give us a call and let’s have a conversation about a brighter future!


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