Empowering Willing Workers: Great Long-term Results

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Empowering Willing Workers: Great Long-term Results

Progress requires a willingness to embrace change. We all carry a certain reticence and reluctance to change, it forms part of our evolutionary makeup, and its existence is responsible for the reasons that form certain judgments and stereotypes. The status quo is safe and has supported us so far, so part of us (even the most ardent change agent) will challenge change with the question: Why?

This question ‘Why?’ (In the context of change) is the single most important question. It forces us as individuals/ as a group/ as an organisation to justify the reasons for investing resource and energy in creating and then sustaining change. What is the benefit/ reason for going through this initial period of discomfort that comes when we start to change our environment?

‘Why?’ Is not a negative question. It is a contextual question. Everyone will ask it (even if they don’t ask it openly). Everyone is then seeking an answer that;

A) They understand

B) Relates positively to their environment.

Change will require effort to install – our ‘experience’ tells us that this will probably come with an element of hassle (in one form or another), this ‘hassle’ needs to be offset through understanding and agreeing with the reasons for change and those reasons bringing about a more effective or comfortable environment. It is the people closest to the change that benefits the most from this understanding.

When the people and workers closest to the change proposal gain understanding and agreement with a continuous improvement program, they will form the best team and mechanism for implementation. Empowering the willing worker will yield results that can be quite astounding, not just in the initial inception but also in the longevity of the program.


Does everyone have the potential to be a willing worker? – Potentially yes!

We are all naturally resistant to change. But we all understand the part that change has played in our historic composition (and its benefits) and so fundamentally we all grasp how change can be good. If a CI program has merit then the single biggest obstacle to success is going to be finding a willing worker… not so… providing the information to the individual, group or organisation is the key to success – all (even our ardent change agent) start off as unwilling until we grasp the concept. Some come to it quicker than others for lots of reasons.

Do you need everyone on-board? – The best results are achieved with everyone pulling in the same direction… but, from an objective viewpoint, it is the critical mass of an agreeable number of workers that will deliver the results. It may not be possible in every circumstance to get full agreement from everyone concerned. The willing worker needs to be our focus and needs to hold either a key position of influence or a key operational position within the Continuous Improvement solution.

Willingness comes easier to some than others. Willingness is a key factor in delivering and sustain results. Willingness has to be present in the critical mass of the team that will be left to operate the new system. Even with a sound CI program, we will all start off as unwilling, and through communication and understanding, we make the bridge between being unwilling to being capable of being willing. Empowerment and guidance then give a willing worker the potential to deliver great results over the long term.



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