"The least expensive way to improve human performance is to let people know what is expected of them."
Keeping Things from Employees Doesn't Work
"My front line guys don't need this."
This quote from one of my executive sponsors troubled me. It troubled me a lot. So much so I decided to (finally) blog about it today.
We were getting ready to deliver a business acumen program for middle managers. We discussed the broader implications of the content to other audiences. He could not see why in the world his front line employees, his workers, the people he depends upon to actually DO the work, would need to know about things like:
Sure, I understand that as a CPT, I partner with clients to add value. The value in my services aligns content and learning with performance. Our work must be relevant and useful to get the most impact. Yes, I get that. But, I'm afraid this executive wasn't thinking that way. I asked lots of follow up questions. What I learned was that he was assuming, "My front line guys aren't smart enough."
Anytime you underestimate the intelligence or capability of your employees, you are asking for trouble. Deming's 14 Points seem to support this conclusion. At least they do for me.
My direct experience indicates that employees are MORE than smart enough. They get it. They get it faster than most and will do more than you expect with the knowledge. They'll cut out bad costs. They'll work for simpler work procedures. They'll advocate for safety. They'll add value. They'll improve quality. In short, the'll do a good job for you. You simply have to let them in on the bigger picture, the scoreboard, and what's in it for them. That's all.
Yes. Everyone needs business acumen. The best companies in the world engage everyone in learning about business in general and their business in particular. Keeping things from people is bad for business.
"The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the unanimous views of all parts of my mind."
- Malcolm McMahon
Dan Topf, CPT is Sr. Vice President at MDI, Inc.
Business Learning by Dan: Primers for Trainers
PDF versions of short articles on how to integrate business acumen into all training and development:
The Income Statement
Price and Volume
The Circulation of Capital
The Cost of Capital
Financial Services -- Life Insurance/Annuities