Peggy, administrative manager for a major fittings forging company, told our Leadership Development LAB (LDL):
“In mid-March I took a look at our workload and at the ability of our team to meet the current and anticipated demands of our ‘customers.’ I knew we had reached the breaking point. Something had to give. I called a brainstorming meeting of the entire Administrative Department staff. I listed some of the reasons why the department’s work load had become too much for the present team to handle: record sales, more SKUs; and the need for more accurate, timely information for sales, customer service and production. I was aware that the Scheduling Department was looking for a temporary employee for 20 hours per week, so when I went into this meeting, I was prepared to lay out a good case to hire a temp for 40 hours per week, to be shared by our Scheduling and Administrative Departments.
“After our productive brainstorming session, it was obvious to everyone that there was a definite need to add resources to the Administrative department. Several options were thoroughly discussed. Included in our most likely list of options were:
- Hire a temp 40 hours per week to be shared by both departments.
- Hire a permanent employee 40 hours per week to be shared by both departments.
- Hire a temp 40 hours per week, and after a three month period, reassess the situation to see if the need still exists. At that time make a decision to either hire a full time staff member, or to continue with the temporary agency.
We chose #3, and we already have the new person in place.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is the importance of ‘speaking up.’ I learned not to be intimidated by upper management. I learned that standing around, complaining about the workload, and hoping that upper management will hear the complaints and take action to correct the problems is not an appropriate, productive, professional, or profitable use of my time. I learned the importance of taking action, taking the first step to solving the problem instead of just complaining and becoming part of the problem.
“The action I call you to take is ask for help if, and when, you need it. Calculate the cost-benefit ratios. Start by honestly looking at all the options you can come up with. Quantify the problem in terms of severity. What is it costing us in response time, customer service, quality, or lost sales? After you have explored all of the costs, both direct and indirect, both soft and hard costs, outline all the optional solutions. Explore their relative costs and related positive benefits. Be sure to ask others whose support you need and who will be affected by the decision to participate and provide input into the process.
“The benefit you will gain is true empowerment. Your problems will be solved. You will experience a more efficient workplace and much, much less stress.”