Manager’s Anxiety with Production Improvement—Part 2*

The last Blog suggested that the Production Manager (PM) seek the help of his employees to improve productivity. Here is an example of how this can be done.

Remember that the PM had a production problem. But he was worried that his solution might fail and if it did, his company would be in more trouble…not to mention his job. I suggested getting help from his employees—but how can he do that?

Here is what I have done. Imagine this scene

The PM has assembled all in his group including you. The PM says:

“I’m sure that you all are aware that our production difficulties are costing us sales and profits. We have to do something about it.

“Here is what I suggest that we do.”

He then proceeds to explain his plan. Imagine he has told you what he proposes.

The PM is completing his suggestion: “So that is what I think we need to do.”

There may be several things he could do right now; for example he could say: “Okay, everyone, let’s get on with it. Thank you.” That would be a fairly typical ending, right?

However suppose instead he said: “That is what I think we need to do. However, I am not sure it covers everything. In fact, I am concerned that my plan may be wrong in some ways. I would like your help to improve the plan.”

Imagine that he looks directly at you and says, “I think many of you may be able to help make this plan better. Would you please help me…help us?”

How do you feel—right now—as you read these words?’

If you had an idea, would you be willing to tell the PM?

Suppose you noticed that he has been moving his gaze to others as he is speaking, asking all of you to help. How do you think others in the group are feeling?

Are you feeling valued? Are the other employees?

If yes, think about why; if no, think about what was missing.

If you were PM, do you think you could ask your employees for help?

More on that in the next Blog.

Don’t want to wait? Then go to and check the tab “Successful Real Change.”

* Adapted from Lead Change without Fear by Paul Schnitzler

Some Comments on Change Success

Think about this: Change initiatives succeed only 30 percent of the time! There are tens of thousands of books published on managing change yet we still have this poor success rate. Why?

First consider that those who will be affected by the change generally do not want it. People hate change; everyone knows that. The possibility of change is distressing, even frightening.

Thus writers focus on how managers can help their employees get past these concerns and help with the change. And that’s good advice.

The books tell the leader what can be done to help these people feel okay and want to contribute to the success. And the books I have read give excellent advice. So, again, why the high failure rate?

What hasn’t been discussed is how the manager feels about the change. The manager has a lot at stake with the change. What are the consequences for the manager if it fails? For many, the possibility of failure is distressing, even frightening—same as for the employees.

Managers needs help with how they are feeling and that is rarely discussed. It is common to hear that “Feelings have no place in business.” But the fact is that humans have feelings and to deny them gets in the way of real success.

Rather than dwelling on feelings, however, let’s look at how we can learn to use them to be even more effective.

Lead Change without Fear is the book which helps the manager in this situation.