For quite some time, I was part of the management team of a manufacturing facility in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Quality was top of mind as we were getting ready to hire a new plant manager. Senior management in the organization refused to build high-profile components in Mexico because the expectation was that the quality would be 80% of the company standard. Not only did management expect less, but so did the team members working there. Our customers wanted more.
For this facility to grow and deliver what the customers demanded, it was no longer acceptable to expect less from it. How we would tackle this became the question for everyone during our interviews. The best answer came from Mr. Arturo Puga, and it was something like this:
Build a wall so strong that the outside world doesn't affect what goes on within your company walls.
I won't go into the specifics of what was changed and how, but this general mentality became the standard. Unlike the surrounding facilities in Juarez, there was an expectation of being world-class. The plant quickly became the best-in-class of all its sister plants worldwide. The employees were proud of the fact that they worked there, and they recruited like-minded people to work there as we grew. The employees who didn't want to live up to these new high standards left and melted back into the culture outside the walls.
If you see something, say something
We grew from a team of 65 and one shift to three shifts, seven days a week, and over 250 members. We couldn't see everything that was going on. We needed to expand our defenses. We wanted to keep the outside culture out and get more people to assimilate and propagate into our company culture.
As a leader, you can only see and touch so many of your flock as you define your vision. How do you get to more people? How do you scale ideas? You need vision carriers. Vision carriers are your company's security system. They will be the ones that enforce the culture and get people on the right road.
We aren't looking for tattletales. We are looking for corrections officers that will pull the offenders aside and coach them on the proper way to handle something. The entire team should expect it, and no one should take offense for being informed of a poor choice of words or display of unprofessional behavior. For example, a machine operator is duty-bound to pull a manager aside and tell them that showing up late doesn't look good to the rest of the team. It is okay that an accounting clerk pull aside a sales rep to tell her that he can see that she may be slacking off phone calls in the afternoon. Every team member has expectations, and those should be transparent.
"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without Vision just passes time. Vision with Action can change the world". Joel Barker
These are the types of actions that make your vision become a reality. See something? Then say something. If you don't do anything about it, you are part of the problem. Our leaders need to coach their team on expectations and how to bring these things appropriately to the offender's attention. For example, calling out someone in a group meeting is not okay. But it is okay for them to talk to that person in private and let them know whatever they did was not okay. It's not always the manager that will discipline or correct behavior, and it may mean more coming from a colleague.
When I grew up, 73 Mothers lived on my street. And when I say mothers, not just their families, they were every kid's mother on the block. If Mrs. Jones saw that I was out of line, she corrected me immediately. My mother would never hear of the incident unless it happened again.
That is culture.
Everyone should be looking out for everyone else. That same Mrs. Jones would have also told me to stay clear of Billy because he would get me in trouble. She could have let me learn my lesson, but instead, she saw something and said something.
That is your line of defense.
Your vision will inspire those closest to you, and they will be the carriers. The rest takes care of itself. It's hard work today, but it will lead to a better tomorrow.
Are you having trouble defining and communicating that vision? Give us a call at the Kole Performance Group. Schedule a 30-minute free conference to see how we can work together.