A couple of weeks ago we started blogging about mistakes to be aware of when starting an employee engagement process. This blog is a second in the series on the same topic.
In our first blog, we cited a few examples of some mistakes that had occurred in organizations such as Kimberly Clark. This week we continue with another example from KC.
If you recall from before, some members of the executive staff decided the lack of innovation that was occurring at Kimberly Clark was a major problem and it was because of them. Not everyone was in agreement and were angry and did not have buy-in when a consultant was called in and proclaimed the problem was with the executive staff. This developed into a major culture shift for the entire organization.
When you read articles about leaders telling about their stories on their organizational improvements in culture changes, you really have to read between the lines. There can be lots of “red flags” lurking in the stories that identify mistakes and the stories about Kimberly Clark’s culture change is no different.
We’re going to focus on an area that is at the heart of any employee engagement process. It’s the reason why organizations need to do employee engagement. Some organizations, such as Kimberly Clark, make the mistake of not including problem solving with employee engagement. They don’t see the benefit of including employees to address issues impacting the organization.
The “red flag” in the KC scenario is not everybody was in agreement with the problem. That mistake was a lost opportunity to utilize the talents of employees to identify what everybody saw were problems occurring within the organization. Each employee, no matter if they are senior executives or those on the shop floor have their own perspective as to what is going on. Each has a different idea to provide based on their experiences, their abilities and so on. By actually doing some real problem solving, it may have brought everybody together on what the actual problem was. In the KC scenario, if everyone would have been involved in identifying what the real problem was, it probably would have created better buy-in.
This isn’t just about discussing what we think is the problem but actually doing some problem solving. Getting some information. Getting some data. Utilizing some problem solving tools such as flow charting, control charts, and cause and effect diagrams. That also takes time and some organizations don’t want to spend time identifying what the actual problem is. They instead end up spending a great deal of time, and probably money, cleaning up from what they thought was the problem.
What can be better than to utilize the intelligence and ideas of all employees! Think how many new and different ideas there would be when real employee engagement occurs. Not only that, when employees are actually involved in helping to make some decisions for the workplace, their productivity improves because they feel like they’re part of the workplace which may help to improve market shares. With those new and different ideas from involving employees, innovation may also gain.
Instead of guessing the problem is the executive staff in the KC article, some time should have been spent in gathering data and information to prove it. The lack of innovation maybe wasn’t the problem. In the Wall Street Journal article on MSN it said the CEO in 2008 was concerned about K-C’s market share. There were lots of issues looming around the Great Recession in 2008. Maybe the market share problem wasn’t the problem. Maybe it was more about the recession. Maybe everyone needed to look at multiple solutions to resolve it.
On PBS Newshour Sept. 15, 2016, one of the segments talked about what employers want from new college graduates. Two of the items were problem solving skills and critical thinking skills. Now, if employers are wanting those skills doesn’t it make sense to actually do it to set the example?
What a shame real employee engagement was not used at Kimberly Clark as it should have been. Without actually taking the time to determine what the actual problem was, a lot of people were labeled failures and the time they put into a job they may have enjoyed wasn’t valued. They were the “dead wood” at Kimberly Clark. That is an even bigger mistake than not utilizing problem solving in employee engagement.
We’re not done with mistakes made when implementing employee engagement. We’re also not done with the story on Kimberly Clark. There’s stil more “red flags” to blog about on employee engagement mistakes.
To be fair, Kimberly-Clark , in its sustainability reports of the last two years does not mention employee engagement occurring in their organization. Employee engagement was mentioned though while they were implementing their culture change.