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Friday, August 04, 2006

How Close Are Your Ears to the Ground?

It has been really loooong! Eight months to be exact since my last post on this blog. I hope you still remember the good old me! :)

My time away from home these last few days gave me the much needed respite (despite the hectic training schedule during day time) to collect my thoughts and write this article. So here goes!

How close are your ears to the ground?

I have been fortunate enough to get many chances to talk to front-liners and factory workers through some of the training programs that I facilitate. I am always amazed at how much they see areas for improvements in their respective work areas that their superiors either fail to see or recognize. And it pains me to realize that had there been anyone from management who listen and I mean really, seriously and with conviction, listen to what they know and have to say, companies could have saved thousands even millions of pesos, increase revenue or avert accidents that are just waiting to happen.

Let me cite some examples. One retailing business could have sold more if they had a more efficient ordering system. There were times when customers miss buying the items that they want while the same items sit in the warehouse. Think about the many sales opportunities that are lost because of this situation. In one factory, some employees endure headaches and other discomfort because there are no available medicines. I imagine how much the discomforts affect their productivity and the quality of their work just because the company is either penny pinching or do not have proper medicine replenishment system. In another factory a fire accident is waiting to happen because employees are allowed by their supervisors to smoke while handling flammable materials, also in another company, employees are allowed not to wear protective gears while handling chemicals that are potentially damaging to their health. It is not that they are not given protective gears; it is that they are allowed not to wear them. It’s like saying “here are your gears, wear them if you like.” As a consultant, I am of course duty-bound to let my clients know what I find and make my own suggestions, but considering the trend that I see, I imagine how many more companies out there are missing opportunities to improve their performance or avert adverse situations because of their inability to listen.

It pays to keep your ears closer to the ground. Companies that have good suggestion program or forum for hearing out employees’ ideas and opinion find out what a goldmine of useful information these people are. One company pays PhP10, 000.00 for a good workable idea. This is a small price to pay considering the potential of a good idea to save a company hundreds of thousands or millions of pesos in savings or earnings. Companies, who see employee complaints as more than nuisance gripes, benefit from avoiding accidents and improve productivity and more for removing inconveniences and poor working conditions. Some companies recognize the importance of soliciting ideas from employees but fail to appreciate its value by giving pittance as reward for their good ideas.

What are the requirements for keeping your ears to the ground, you may ask. Here are my suggestions:

  • Have a lot of patience; some people who have the best ideas have the worst way of communicating it.
  • Be humble enough to accept negative comments about ideas that you have just implemented
  • Be ready to reward good ideas well and great ideas in an even bigger way. I’m talking many thousands of pesos here or awesome perks that only those people who are too dense can resist.
  • Don’t throw away ideas. Analyze them and mine them for what they are worth. Have some people piggy back on them, they may not be worth anything now, but they could be the cash cows of the future.

Want to hear more? e-mail me at or call me at 639205044521