Friday, May 4, 2012

Professional Pearl: Company executives are clueless as to how to motivate their employees. (contributed by Kevin Lehigh)

“I was to learn later that in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.” from Petronius Arbiter (ca. 27–66 AD)

As the quote above alludes to, in our lifetime many of us have been exposed to attempts at business improvement in various forms and guiles. As a young engineer years ago, I sat in an auditorium at Ball Aerospace for most of a day listening to some consultant drone on for hours on end about the soup du jour of the moment, something called Performance Improvement Excellence, or PIE for short. We nicknamed it Pie in the Sky. One of our esteemed Ball Aerospace leaders, a Business Operations guy no less, introduced the consultants for all of about two minutes before shuffling off to perform minor miracles for the company whilst the rest of us highly-paid engineers were held captive. How many of you have been through this scenario? Eighteen months later, how much of this program was ever instilled into the corporate body? How many times since has the process rebooted with another set of consultants coming in to tell the same story with different view graphs or PowerPoints.

Fast forward about thirty years. Is it any wonder employees and mid-level managers are so skeptical when consultants, even well-meaning ones like us, foist ourselves upon another corporation or government entity like theirs? Is it any wonder that we encounter some resistance along the way?