Lessons From The 90 Day Turnaround™


Lessons From The 90 Day Turnaround™: 6 Keys to Creating a Highly Engaged, High Performing Team. Leonard and Bill’s teams always worked hard, but never seemed to be able to keep up with the workload. Chris’s team members couldn’t get along – they constantly bickered and struggled to work together. Stan and Matthew were convinced they inherited unmotivated teams. They couldn’t figure out what to do to get them to work harder.

If you’re a manager, you no doubt have your own team struggles. You may be able to feel their pain. As you read their stories, see if any of the lessons learned can help you.

Lesson 1: Leonard, a factory manager, could not understand why his workers needed to know what product they were building until quality inspectors started finding vibration problems in assembled pumps. When workers were told they were building pumps, it was as if a light bulb turned on. Workers realised that the shafts they carelessly handled had been precision balanced to turn pumps and that dropping them was a huge liability for the company.

We call this concept Context. Leonard learned that team members needed to have Context to understand the big picture and make good business decisions.

Lesson 2: Chris was a supply chain manager leading Jill and Brandon, who was assigned to a product line. Brandon worked hard to give product line leaders everything they wanted, but he had to depend on Jill to get the parts he needed. Jill never seemed to be in a hurry to get his parts. Besides Brandon, Jill supported several other supply chain team members working in other product lines making the same demands as Brandon. To avoid the appearance of playing favorites, Jill managed requests on a first-come-first-serve basis. That way nobody could claim they were getting the short end of the stick. But Brandon and his product line peers only cared about pleasing their product line leaders and demanded special treatment from Jill. It was a constant battle.

Jill and product line supply chain members lacked Connection. Chris learned they needed to understand how each impacted the rest of the team and collaboratively establish priorities in order to stop operating in silos and wasting time selfishly fighting to get what they wanted at the expense of others.

Lessons 3 and 4: Marco was the longest tenured machinist in the company and he complained every day about missing tools. They were either stolen, broken, or hoarded by other machinists who needed them to do specific jobs. One day, Marco came up with a plan. He asked Bill, his manager, to find something else for the tool crib attendant to do and allow the machinists to keep track of their own tools. Confident it would never work, Bill agreed to try the plan on a trial basis and see what happened. So, the machinists met and formulated a plan to keep tools stocked and available at all times. To Bill’s surprise, they never had another missing tool.

Bill learned that when he gave Marco and the machinists Control over the methods and means they were able to choose personal  Commitment for keeping tools safe and available.

Lesson 5: Stan, a plant manager, believed in empowering his teams. He told them they could prioritise their work and schedule it accordingly thinking they would immediately benefit from being able to both plan and perform their work. But it was a disaster. The teams had never learned how to prioritise and plan. The manager had always done that for the team.

These teams lacked team Competence – the ability to manage the work of the team. While Stan was well-intentioned, he had never considered providing the same type of training to the team that he had received as a manager. Stan learned he needed to develop team members’ ability to manage their work.

Lesson 6: Matthew wanted his team members to be able to track the status of every batch in the facility thinking it would help them be more aware of problems that could be coming their way. So he gave them access to a folder buried deep in the bowels of the server. He never considered that few people would make the effort to dig through layers of permissions and drives to get to the data.

Mathew learned that one important element of Communication to support engagement is ready access to current performance.

Remember, Matthew complained that his team members were not motivated. When he asked for help, he was overcome with quality problems and major backlogs that threatened the survival of the business.

Matthew began applying the 6 Cs of Engagement by teaching all team members the business, how each team member affected others in the value stream and what the organisation needed to do to meet customer needs. He began giving team members greater latitude to decide how to do the work. So they streamlined work processes and committed to provide critical outcomes to each other and the team, overall. He helped them expand their technical knowledge and capabilities and taught them how to manage their own work. And, as he learned in Lesson 6, he setup and posted performance scoreboards to track the status of work.

The result? Matthew learned a new way to lead. In just a few months, team productivity doubled while errors evaporated, and the team no longer appeared unmotivated. 

Like Matthew, each manager spotlighted here understood employee engagement at some level, but when they more fully understood and applied all 6 keys of engagement, they were able to overcome the problems that held them back and achieve great team results.

If your challenges are anything like those that plagued Matthew and the others, consider applying the 6 Cs of Engagement and enjoy the remarkable results a highly engaged and productive team produces.