An Exclusive Look at PSbyM Experts’ Opinions on Manager and Employee Development

Cara Thompson, Managing Director of Client Operations, and Jordan Workman, Director of Business Development, shared insightful comments while assisting in developing an eBook that is focused on what it takes to develop both managers and employees within an organization striving for a culture of continuous improvement. Here are some key takeaways from our colleagues that resonated with Performance Solutions by Milliken (PSbyM):

When asked what her ideal improvement-focused organization would consist of, Cara highlighted that the goal of PSbyM would be to create frontline workers who are “engaged, confident problem-solvers, because we’ve given them the right training and tools, but also because they work with the right kind of leaders.”

Confident problem-solvers require hands-on learning; Jordan emphasized the necessity of hands-on problem-solving by insisting that PSbyM “take an actual problem and go work on it and solve it at the source, so that it feels like it matters and we’re not just doing some academic exercise.”

Cara also pointed out the necessity of observation: “We observe the leaders and associates interacting, we observe how leaders communicate employee’s performance, how they provide feedback, how they solve problems…based on our performance system and in our training as practitioners, we’re looking for certain principles, mindsets, and behaviors that align with this sort of improvement-focused organization.  So when we see gaps in either principles, behaviors, or mindset, these are triggers to us that development is needed.”

After the need for development is identified, Jordan brings up a good point in that employees and managers both need to grow for a company as a whole to succeed. “Not only success for a single project, but also success for the system cannot happen independent of manager employee development.”

Cara captured one of the key tenets of PSbyM by describing that the teams the practitioners work with “are learning a method, but they’re being coached on the behaviors by the practitioner that enable that method’s success,” said Cara. “They receive feedback about working as a team and learn to work as a cross-functional team. Managers, hourly, operations, maintenance all must understand that they’re here as a team for the one purpose and one purpose only…to make the organization better.”

Jordan agrees. He highlights how open conversations are extremely important, no matter what type of feedback comes from the conversation, because the feedback is visible and comprehensible. He emphasizes how the environment in which the manager conveys messages is essential to lead and direct employees: “It’s a much more productive way of achieving your goals because they’re both visible, and you create a level of objectivity that allows you to have much more functional conversations.”

Cara makes a point to say that these training tactics and workshops are meant to be implemented long after the practitioners have left the facility: We want to make sure that any training or background on those principles, mindsets, and behaviors [introduced through PSbyM] are integrated into future onboarding and training to reinforce these ideas and behaviors, as well as any technical things that we help clients develop, like problem-solving methodologies, get tied back into the ongoing training.”

Jordan hits on this point as well: “You can’t just turn around and start doing something tomorrow and expect everyone to think, ‘Oh, this is fantastic.’ That doesn’t happen,” said Jordan. “You have to fight the tendency to concern yourself with the 20% when you should be bolstering the 80% of people that want do their jobs well.”

Cara highlights the value of consistency from a managerial standpoint: “Most people can muscle through, or with heroic fire-fighting meet numbers that they’ve been given. But to do it year after year in a way that creates a good place to work—a place where people want to work where you can grow your talent and really get full value from your employees—is having the right type of culture. We believe that the strongest leaders need to be measured on organizational health and their performance metrics.” She understands and explains how “leading by example” is essential for PSbyM’s practitioners: “We start as the role models for these types of behavior, that this is how we lead and this is how we work as a team,” said Cara. “So we can’t just go in, feedback flying—it takes a relationship to be able to get this sort of one-on-one development coaching to either frontline associates who are team leaders or key managers in the organization.”

These essential points and additional relevant discussions are highlighted in our latest eBook, “Improvement-Focused Manager and Employee Development.”

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