Synopsis: Communication For Productivity
Letters written to some 7500 Workers / Managers / Union Leaders, following a period of strike / Go slow / Murders (1979 - 1987), at Mumbai factory of Larsen & Toubro Ltd. This direct / open / honest communication led to a remarkable atmosphere of trust between Workers and Management, which, in turn, increased productivity at 3% per year (ave).
11 Feb 1987
A few days back I had a meeting with about 15 shop-representatives from various departments all over Powai.
Whereas the shop-reps, agreed that not all suggestions can be implemented or rewarded, the general feeling was as follows :
(3) Foremen/Dept.Heads should take more Interest In understanding the suggestion and the logic behind the rejection and they should take pains to explain this logic to the suggester so that he is convinced.
As far as I can see, this point is VERY IMPORTANT. The suggestion-committee Itself felt very strongly In favour of this during its last meeting.
Every person feels that his suggestion is most brilliant and worth a Nobel-prize ! He derives greatest satisfaction in seeing it get implemented. This satisfaction, quite often is even far more important to him than the monetary reward.
All of us, throughout our working-life of 20, 30 or 40 years keep on suggesting ''changes", whether those changes pertain to
- etc., etc.
We make these"suggestions" (except that we do not consciously call them "suggestions" in dozens of encounters with our colleagues everyday -for perhaps 10,000 days of our working-life.
All of these, add-up to perhaps 100,000 or if you are very prolific, to may be a MILLION suggestions during the course of A lifetime !
But despite these enormous odds (against our suggestions getting accepted), we do not get frustrated and give up making suggestions.
In a dialogue, a discussion, a group-meeting, others are quick to respond with counter-arguments and counter-logic.
The whole process Is very personal, live, open and transparent. You can see the feelings and touch the emotions.
And therefore, you understand. And when you understand, you do not resist - nor do you feel frustrated.
Perhaps you may even get a smalI satisfaction out of having been given the opportunity to Influence the thinking of the others.
If nothing else, you get a feeling of having "participated" in the process. To most of us this feeling, by Itself is a great motivator - the feeling of having been "seen-and-heard".
But none of this life-drama is present when you send your suggestion, through a piece of paper and receive a "response" after a few months. on another piece of cyctostyled paper !
"Dear Suggester :
Ref : So-and-so
Thank you very much for your Suggestion. Wo have evaluated It in detail and regret to inform you that the same Is not acceptable for the following reasons :
Suggestion-Scheme co-coordinators’ (Modh - Gr.lI, SVR - Group III, Solkhan-Gr-.IV, Saharia - EWAC, Sethi - PGM) will also attach the details of the suggestion itself and the details of the "reasons-for-non-acceptance"
It is one thing to be able to convince a suggester regarding the "non-acceptance" but It is an altogether different thing to keep him motivated so that he keeps sending more and more suggestions.
You - and you alone - can bridge the gap (the communication-gap) between the seemingly Impersonal suggestion-committee on one side and the person sitting in front of you, on the other side.
- No more "dellvery-thru-Mall".
"I did not know that you had sent in this suggestion. Seems like a good suggestion. But of course, you know that the Suggestion- committee has to look Into each and every aspect, not the least
of which is ....................................................……………………………………………………….
Next time you have a clever Idea, why don't you come to me first. May be I can help you to make the necessary sketches and the calculation of savings. I am sure, one of these days, you are bound to come-up with a brilliant Idea and win a big prize - so why not look around and keep asking,
A major objective for any supervisor (whether he be a first-line supervisor or a General Manager) is to bring out the "creative talent" which lies hidden amongst his subordinates/colleagues. And "suggestions" received from your departmont/section Is a pretty good Indicator of how well you are meeting that objective.