One of the things I enjoy so much about consulting is the opportunity to teach people new things....new ways of looking at processes and systems. One of the most important teachings I try to have people learn up front is the importance of engaging the "money makers" in their company. The money makers are the people on the front lines building your company's products or delivering your company's services. It's these people that are the true subject matter experts and the people who truly understand how your processes really work. But if you're like many companies, you don't recognize them the way you should. While it's true that many companies involve their money makers, they don't "engage" them and let them design the path forward.
So is there a clear difference between involving money makers and engaging them? You bet there is! Many companies just let their money makers be part of a team, but that's not enough. Engaging money makers means giving them responsibility to design the new path forward. How many of your companies put together improvement teams comprised of at least 80% hourly workers or the people that generate your revenue? If not, why not? These money makers are the true subject matter experts. These money makers know how processes work and what needs to be done to improve throughput and/or quality, so why wouldn't you let them design the new way?
In all of my engagements I always help the leadership team understand the value of truly engaging the subject matter experts. It's difficult for leadership teams that are used to move away from what I call the command and control mentality to a management style that is engaging. In fact, many times parts of the leadership team is unable to let go of their command and control mentality and management style. But for those that can and will, the rewards are simply amazing. An anaolgy that I sometimes use is dealing with your auto mechanic. Do you listen to what your mechanic tells you needs to be done to get your car running in optimal condition or do you tell him what to do? Most of us have never repaired a car, so we usually go with what our mechanic tells us. The same is true in your business. The people building your product or delivering your service know what needs to be done to improve your business if you'll just listen to them, trust what they have to say and let them lead the way. I have seen this work many, many times. Why is it that when many of us reach a management or leadership position that we believe that our way is the only way? It's like we're expected to make all of the decisions on our direction without input from anyone.
If you'll take the time to listen to your subject matter experts and allow them to design a new future for you, the rewards will come. And something else happens when you engage them....you suddenly have a team that is loyal to you and your company. People want their opinions not only heard, but respected and acted upon. The decision is yours, but I promise you that your company's bottom line can and will grow at a much faster rate if you engage rather than just involve....