Mind Chi in Action
by Al Homyk
Companies that practice Mind Chi principles create a participative atmosphere where employees are encouraged to suggest, plan, and contribute to the way the business is run. They have a bottom-up focus where decisions are made closer to where the work is performed. Employees see themselves as an integral part of making their businesses grow and prosper. Managers are responsible to establish sound principles and have a key responsibility to balance fairness to an individual and fairness to the group. Participative management systems can only be effective if they are built on a solid foundation of accountability, respect, caring, and honesty. Accountability can be defined as “understanding and accepting expectations for you and your team’s performance including its actions and inactions, success and failures”.
Once expectations and standards (The “What”) have been clearly communicated, they need to be enforced (The “How”). It is critical that they be built into day-to-day work in a respectful, caring, and honest manner. The days of management by stick are long gone.
But what does treating each other with respect, caring, and honesty mean?
At a major electric utility, 4 focus groups comprised of 52 individuals representing both the union and management were assembled. Each focus group (broken down into 3 to 4 teams per session) was asked to discuss the worst behaviors they had seen among their fellow workers and bosses at any time during their careers. These were called “THE DON’TS”and were recorded on flip charts to be shared among the teams. Next, each team was asked to record the best behaviors they had seen among fellow workers and managers. In most cases, the teams struggled with this exercise. They knew what they liked, but had a difficult time describing what they wanted to see.
After a short pause, the facilitators offered the hint that the best behaviors are often theopposites of the worst behaviors. Immediately, the flood gates opened and most teams had 4 flip charts of material within 15 minutes. These best behaviors were called “THE DO’S”.
Upon completion of the focus group work, the facilitators sorted the DO’s and DON’TS into Mind Chi maps. The final map was a consensus of the teams’ work called “How We Act”. (See attachment)
Going forward, the teams proposed that the “How We Act” document be shared and discussed throughout the company. Whenever anyone observes a “knockable behavior” (selected DON’Ts, highlighted in yellow on the map), the fact that someone is not following the “How We Act” guidelines is easily and quickly pointed out by a tap on a table (or other convenient surface). The intent is to have fun with it – but send a message at the same time. Most of these behaviors people should have learned from their parents and will be challenging to change. The goal is to create a friendly awareness so that people become cognizant ofneeded behavior improvements. Initially people may change because it will become publicly unacceptable, but over time the accepted behaviors will become part of the company’s culture. Only those actions that can be easily observed were highlighted and pointed out. The ones that are not highlighted are more subtle and difficult to comment on in public. These would be left to one-on-one discussions as appropriate.