July 7, 2008

What a day!

I recently had a dream that I would like to share. In this dream a newly graduated MBA arrived for his first day at work in a large company. He had been hired as a replacement for a retired manager in the manufacturing department. The department manager had been on vacation when the MBA was hired so the individual had been hired by the site manager to fill the position. Needless to say the department manager was resentful and had told the MBA to report for work by coming to a meeting of his department managers in the site auditorium on Monday. He had told the MBA the incorrect start time, so that he was late and then the department manager consistently put down any ideas the MBA brought up in the meeting.

As the meeting was nearing its close, the MBA made another attempt at suggesting a team approach to production management. When the department manager shut down this idea too, the MBA looked at him and said “It is clear to me that I do not belong here at this time. I believe we have both made a mistake.”

As the young MBA got up to leave an elderly manager who was also nearing retirement asked “Jimbo, before you leave could you do me a favor?”

The MBA did not recognize the man, but knew he must be someone from his past as this was a nickname only used by his mother, who died the year before. The MBA replied with respect, “Within reason sir, I will do what you request.”

The elder pointed to a piano on the stage then replied, ”Sing What a Day that Will Be for me“. The elder knew the young man would know this song as this was his mother’s favorite hymn when the boy was growing up in his neighborhood.

The MBA moved to the stage and sat at the piano. He played the chorus through. Then began playing and singing in a clear tenor voice. The MBA stood and sang a second time accapella. As he sang, people from the department nearest the auditorium began to drift in and take a seat. When the MBA started the third time, a woman from the audience went up to the piano to play. The audience began to join in singing the chorus. A few women came onstage at the first chorus and began to sing, and then others joined until over a dozen women formed a choir to lead the group. At the fourth rendition of the song, the MBA nodded toward the choir to take the lead with the group and he found an empty seat.

After the final group singing, everyone began talking with one another, shaking hands, and friendly back-slapping before going back to work. The seat taken by the MBA was next to the department manager. The department manager asked forgiveness of the MBA for his attitude and suggested they start again. Both agreed to a 30-day trial and begin working well together.

Over a week after the MBA started, the department manager received a phone call from the site manager, who was a co-owner in the company. The site manager noted that manufacturing production had gone up in the past week and that he had heard about their Monday morning sing-along. Before the department manager could speak. The site manager went into a story of how his grandfather, who had started the company, used to do company devotionals at the beginning of each month which included a motivational talk, two songs, and a prayer followed with about ten minutes of group fellowship before beginning work. Employees and their families all attended the devotionals, as his grandfather wanted everyone to feel as if they were family and not just employees. Over the years production somehow became more important than people. The site manager commended the department manager for bringing the feeling of family back to the business. The site manager even suggested that yearly company picnics should be reinstated.

The department manager was encouraged to begin more motivational and team-building within his department. He asked the MBA to lead this effort and to plan a family picnic for the site that summer. The MBA asked the elder manager to help him plan an old fashioned picnic like the ones the elder experienced at the beginning of his company career.

What does my dream mean for you? Is there something you can do in your business to make employees feel a part of the family? Are teamwork, motivation, and productivity tied together? Can being part of a family or team bring about increased productivity in business? Try something new or bring back some old tradition with a different twist. Then let us know how it worked out!

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