A new collaborative book by members of the “Great Work Cultures” (GWC) movement aims to transform organizations and create more humanistic environments for employees to work in. Joan Blades, a prominent activist for positive change who launched the movement, praises the contributors to the book as “brilliant innovators and leaders who know how to structure workplaces that sing”.
Statistics show that the average worker is disengaged and that most workplace productivity is a fraction of what it could be. Members of the GWC movement believe, however, that workplace environments which are deeply respectful of all workers will be productive and experience very low turnover. This book is an outcome of their intention to accelerate positive change at work.
In this interview, book contributor, Sue Bingham, discusses her chapter, “Creating a Culture of Trust in the Work Place”. Sue Bingham, founder and principal of HPWP Group, has been at the forefront of the positive business movement for 35 years. She’s driven to create high performing workplaces by partnering with courageous leaders who value the contributions of team members. She is the author of Creating the High-Performance Work Place: It’s Not Complicated to Develop a Culture of Commitment.
What do you hope to achieve from the collaboration of this multi-authored book?
Sue Bingham: There are so many articles written about how the workplace is changing and the need for change, but I still don’t see large corporations doing anything about it. I want to increase the urgency of the need for change. I really want organizations to see the benefits of creating a respectful, trusting workplace.
What would you say your expertise is?
Sue Bingham: My expertise is organizational effectiveness in all kinds of ways, largely though through employee engagement. I have a unique vantage because my work spans from formulating strategy of work with senior executives and owners to facilitating employee action teams. My greatest skill probably is designing experiential training so that we can get people from point A to point B, not just with the knowledge or the information, but with a real desire to do something with it.
What types of companies do you work with and offer those services?
Sue Bingham: I love working with visionary and gutsy leaders who value people and are ready to change the status quo. Much of our work is with manufacturing and logistics companies because that’s where the lowest hanging fruit is and the most immediate opportunity for change. Unlike check-the-box training, the work we do harnesses the potential of the whole organization not just leaders.
There are many statistics about how disengaged the average worker is. Briefly, why do you think the average worker is disengaged?
Sue Bingham: The average worker feels disengaged because he or she is rarely asked about what improvements could be made. Sadly, their opportunity to contribute is narrowed into one small box that’s their job description. I would also say, because this is a passion of mine, I think management and leaders have gotten away from the real purpose of leading which is developing people. And the reason is because that’s not what their boss asks them about. Instead, their boss asks some version of, “how much product is on the dock?” or “what were our shipments last month?” or “how many calls were on hold for more than two seconds?” They’re being asked about numbers, but nobody’s ever asked, “what did you do develop your people lately?”
It is said that work place productivity is a fraction of what it could be. What do you believe will increase work place productivity?
Sue Bingham Employee engagement. Right now, in terms of productivity, we’re treating the workforce in a more diminished way than we treat a process or piece of equipment. When we buy a piece of equipment we expect to use one-hundred percent of its capacity. Yet, when we hire new team members, we don’t come close to tapping the potential they’re capable of. Since 2007, I’ve asked thousands of leaders a simple question with a stunning answer. The question is: “What percent of an employee’s potential do employers use on the job?” Leaders consistently admit that only 50 – 60% of the employee’s potential is used on the job!
Your chapter is ‘Creating a Culture of Trust in the Work Place”. Can you share why it’s important for companies to consider adding a culture of trust to their work place culture and how the power of trust can impact their success?
Sue Bingham: As leaders, you can do anything if you’re trusted. Trust puts an end to micromanaging, to rules, to locking things up. The offshoot of trust is that it generates respect. Those things eliminate all kinds of non-value-added activities like CYA, double check, and a lot of the bureaucracy that’s been created out of a lack of trust.
Can you briefly share a success story for a company you worked with?
Sue Bingham: We worked with a very large company that had a substantial turnover problem, over fifty percent. They tried lots of things. We got them to agree to trust their front-line employees to hire their peers and to give them full decision-making power in that process. By doing that, in eight months, they reduced turnover from fifty to twenty-seven percent and conservatively was a four-million-dollar savings in eight months.
That’s a great share. Thank you.
For more information about Sue Bingham, visit www.hpwpgroup.com.