Asking the right questions? How about asking the right people?

Here’s something to think about. When you decide a new policy, set guidelines or formulate new rules do you ever look for input from the people who are directly affected by those decisions, follow those guidelines or enforce those rules? If you don’t, you are missing out on valuable information.

I was reading through the latest edition of DC
Velocity magazine and came across an article titled, “What your forklift drivers want you to know.” Raymond Handling Concepts, a Pacific Northwest dealer of material handling equipment and systems, took the time to ask forklift operators what was important to them. Their responses indicated how important safety is to them; the pride they take in their work and the importance of adhering to high standards; their appreciation for new equipment; the significance of forklifts and rack systems being compatible; and their concerns about poor lighting reducing productivity leading to accidents. Now you might say, “Of course. That makes total sense.” Yes, it does. The point is that we have that information because someone asked; not just anyone, but the people directly involved.

It’s one thing to ask, it’s another to listen. The people who work in the trenches, those on the front line of operations each day, are the ones who can make a difference. Let me give you another example. A while back, I was involved in creating a communications campaign for a hospital opening a new emergency room facility. Before actual construction, a mock version of the room was created and employees at every level of the organization could walk through and provide feedback as it related to their jobs. The exercise was invaluable. Everyone from upper management, to physicians and nurses, to housekeeping and dietary had a chance to look at it from their perspective and how it would affect them carrying out their daily duties. Not only did employees feel like they were heard, they were now totally invested in the project and became the best ambassadors for its success. Wow. Seems like a simple thing to do, So, why is it too often overlooked?

Good decisions, guidelines for success and rules of the day aren’t created in a vacuum – at least they shouldn’t be. If you want the real story, just ask the right people.

Posted by MJ Thomas

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