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You can’t manage your way out of a shit show: when its time to Explore Options

In a recent spate of unfortunate events, a manufacturing facility had numerous lock out, tag out (LOTO) violations over a short duration. LOTO protocols are put into place to ensure that employees are safe when working on large industrial equipment; safeguarding them by preventing equipment from being turned on during maintenance. Any LOTO violation requires an extensive investigation and root cause analysis for on-going good safety practices. In many cases, employees can be terminated if the error is too egregious.

Multiple LOTO issues arose during the previous month, causing a lot of frustration within the senior leadership team. Not much of a leader to begin with the increasingly frustrated Plant Manager imposed more and more complex instructions and processes after each violation. Despite strategic initiatives and operational projects the Plant Manager had made several, unilateral decisions that were complex, time consuming, ambiguous, and had punitive outcomes. By the end of the month, the process had become so complicated and time consuming that many within the facility were frustrated, angry, and increasingly nervous about any tiny error. Tempers and emotions were quite high.

When to manage, when to lead

Effective management practices are an organizational must-have. Our greatest role in leadership positions is to ensure that our employees have a job to come to the next day. This means that good, effective management processes must be in place to provide consistency and gather good data for decision making. It’s also imperative that leaders ensure managerial processes are followed. Finally, a lack of good processes contributes a great deal of team discontent. That said, once a good managerial process is in place, we need to shift to leading people through the process.

Who has the answers?

Managers do not have all the answers. In fact it’s a bit of a corporate over-reach to expect it. Its equally frustrating when good employees do not feel heard. Overly managed processes ultimately lead to a knowledge or information vacuum. Thus, we implement decisions without a full understanding of the barriers and miss real answers from team members. What’s the solution? EXPLORE OPTIONS!

By practicing leadership, we seek input from those closest to the work. We give our team members the opportunity to bring their voice and expertise to the situation. In turn, they feel heard, they feel included, solutions are most likely simple to follow with the employees in mind, and engagement increases. As long as the idea does not conflict with organizational policies or strategic goals, empower your team to find solutions.

As crazy as an idea might sound, all ideas must be considered, even the outrageous ones!  Exploring options through dialogue is what separates the great leaders from the aspiring leaders.  Are you ready to EXPLORE OPTIONS?  Check out the Shared Leadership modules, the SEEM Framework, and why Exploring Options is a leadership and organizational imperative.

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