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Channel your employees' energy into improvement

No organization will ever be perfect and it can be frustrating trying to find solutions to entrenched problems, but that's no reason not to strive for improvement. It may seem harmless for a stressed employee to "blow off steam" every now and then, but it is important for all team members, from top executives to frontline workers, to recognize that complaining about problems does not contribute to solving them.

Even worse, complaining wastes energy that could be invested in making improvements to address the real causes of stress in the workplace. However, business consultant Peter Winiarski writes that there is some good news for organizations that find themselves swimming in complaints, because "when people complain, it means they have a frame of reference for a better situation or alternative. The key is to tap into that perspective in a positive way."

How can companies channel employees' frustrations into constructive action?

Employees may resort to complaining because they don't feel like they have the ability to change the things that are bothering them. At Daman Products, we address this problem at the core by giving employees the autonomy and ownership they need to play an active role in finding creative solutions to the problems they face on a daily basis.

Here's an example that illustrates our commitment to building a culture of personal accountability and continuous improvement. We had started a three-day 5S event in our largest and most complex manufacturing cell. Besides being aware of the event and signing off on the budget, company leaders had no knowledge of what the team was doing.

We approved the expenditure of $25,000 based solely on a sense of trust that our employees knew what they were doing and would make effective use of the money. Shortly after, we discovered a contractor sawing up the concrete floor of our shop. No one had submitted any kind of business case or even asked for permission. But it turned out to be a great idea.

By getting air lines and electricity deeper into the cell, our workers were able to eliminate an OSHA dam they had been working around. Even if you knew it was a great idea, would you feel comfortable sawing up the floor in your workplace without asking someone?

When this took place, we were already 15 years into our continuous improvement journey. Ten years earlier, the situation would have played out differently, with less trust and more oversight. Trust takes a long time to build, but it is the currency of continuous improvement.

When a sense of purpose and commitment to meeting market needs permeate a company, it becomes a powerful environment filled with motivated employees. In our view, this is what makes Daman Products such a valuable partner for manifold distributors.


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