Arriving to Boston via train for an evening meeting earlier this fall, sitting just in front of me a self-described business owner was quizzing a young man across the aisle about his employer. The owner knew the young man’s company and was curious about its level of activity, product offerings and capacities, customers and more.
Coincidentally this manufacturing company is a current client whose business I know very well. I recognized the young man as a production employee. He was now on his way to either a show or a Red Sox game.
Anyway, with a female woman companion next to him, the young man proceeded to confidently respond, to every question raised, and from my own knowledge of the company the detailed answers were accurate, and in some instances insightful. His questioner was clearly impressed (with the young man and the company) but wondered in the young man’s role in production how he was so knowledgeable about the markets, technology, operating performance and, to some degree, the company’s financials.
I knew the answer and was intent on the pending response.
The young man proudly described how the owner and the president of this substantial business were always on the factory floor – not to check up, but rather to check in, to see if, from the workers’ perspective, there were any opportunities to improve the quality or the production of current jobs. They discussed upcoming bids and gathered everyone’s thoughts to consider productivity, delivery times or quality. The company had also introduced formalized employee involvement by launching Lean and a level of employee self-direction.
He related how in meetings they went through company plans and results. The young man added that the owner and president knew his family and they often talked about them and their progress and plans, as well as the company’s.