By Mike Prokopeak
Dec. 20, 2015
It’s easy to take a cynical view of work. I’ve done it many times.
The standard line goes like this: Bosses are clueless, employees are disengaged, and the workplace is dysfunctional. The sad reality is it’s not wrong. Leaders can be willfully blind, workers often don’t give full effort, and the workplace is flawed.
The faults are easy to find, and many corporate mandates deserve skepticism. That’s necessary if we aim to make work better.
Work gives meaning and purpose to lives and, done right, HR makes it infinitely better. Sharing stories about that vital HR role is our mission at Human Capital Media, the corporate parent of Workforce. Our tagline says as much: “Better Workplaces, Better Lives.”
As we begin 2016, we’ll continue that calling in this magazine, on our website and through our events. I hope you’ll continue to join us.
Taking the Time to Respond to Time and Attendance
I found the article, “It’s about Time — and Attendance,” interesting, comprehensive and thought-provoking, particularly concerning human factors. Since this can be a major determinate of success or failure, I believe it is worth some discussion.
In a recent experience, I was hired to fix a dysfunctional manufacturing division with serious problems in cost and deliveries. These had become critical, holding up a major U.S. Air Force program. Manufacturing was based on a proprietary process used to fabricate complex hardware and was still floundering five years after startup.
The facility was union, and my priority was to understand where they stood and take steps to avoid issues that could compound the real problems. The first issue was actually mine — time clocks — and not at the time on the union’s agenda. I contacted HR and said I was yanking them. As one might imagine, this was not well-received. They would not agree since the main plant was on time clocks, and in any case the government would not agree because of compliance issues. I said, ‘Not a problem.’ I had already taken care of it with the on-site government representatives who agreed that my approach would be in compliance. The real issue with time clocks is their message: I don’t trust you. I found it particularly egregious that the blue-collar workers were singled out while everyone else was considered trustworthy. As a result my position was that either everyone punches a time clock or no one does. They agreed on no one. The results were predictable. People are motivated by trust and through this action time and attendance became nonissues.
While I fully agree that a basic structure is required to operate effectively, and that this structure needs to be documented, communicated and monitored, the process needs to be driven by human factors. The design and implementation of people management systems certainly should not be a rote exercise. Human interface should be a significant design driver with serious thought given to consequences, hopefully with creative approaches that can turn requirements to advantage, as they did here. In my experience this begins with a mindset driven by innovative processes that effectively address the human factors. When this is present, there will be a real pay off in the bottom line.
Principal and director,
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