One of my favorite workplace books is Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment byWilliam Byham.
On the CALMC Facebook page I posted an audio version link and a link to the book version. This book has been out for quite some time but its message is as relevant today as when it first came out.
If employee engagement is at an all time low as we blogged about last year, and this book tells how working together can help encourage more participation at work, increase productivity, reduce costs, and reignite the workplace to help with profits, then what’s the problem? In the book, it’s a simple message – nothing difficult – that can help with all the above.
What’s the book about? The story is about Normal Company and its employee, Ralph, and Ralph’s supervisor, Joe Mode.
Joe Mode is your typical supervisor who is expected to get more out of employees, cut costs, and raise profits but Joe is also very smart and realizes the employees walk around like zombies. None of the employees in his department seem to enjoy working and do as little as they can to get by but he can’t figure out why. Maybe that’s why employee engagement is at an all time low – no one can figure out what to do.
So with the help of Ralph, Joe learns about a technique a supervisor uses through one of Ralph’s inventions, the Ralpholator, which takes him on a journey to the 12th dimension. The supervisor makes people excited about coming to work. The employees help the supervisor with lowering costs and increasing their productivity. The department’s profit increases because the supervisor knows how to get everyone to work together. She knows how to ZAPP! people.
The story sometimes is a little hokey but the message is simple and crystal clear: maintain self-esteem; listen and talk with empathy and pay attention to what others are saying; share information such as thoughts, feelings, rationale; ask for help and encourage working together to solve the problem; and provide support or ask what people need to get the job done. The story tells how all this is accomplished.
Zapp is about believing in the people that work for you or the philosophy that most people want to do a good job. As a manager or supervisor it’s important to show your support, ask for their ideas, get their input, and let them put their ideas to work.
The biggest problem that comes out in the story is most managers can’t let go. That element of control is just too powerful but it can also be just as powerful in the negative sense, too. When managers control too much we call that micromanaging. The term they use in the book for this is sapping. The energy, the drive and enthusiasm to do a good job is usually sapped from employees as a manager takes control. It took Joe Mode sometime to learn the difference between sapp and zapp but the overall effect of zapping can far outweigh the benefits.
Go to the CALMC Facebook page and get the links to the book. Once you’ve listened or read the book(and it won’t take you long) you’ll be well on your way to using the power of Zapp!