In an all-hands meeting an excited manager reported, “Our on-time delivery was 98.9%; we reduced scrape rate by 4%; margins increased 2%; rework rose by 3%; 93% rated us high on customer service; attendance averaged 97.6%; we had no lost-time accidents and no near misses.”
The manager told his story on four-color, animated PowerPoint slides with graphs and emoji’s. After the presentation, the crowd buzzed with questions and comments.
In a debriefing, a direct report said, “I think the employees appreciated the show.” Another added, “Yes, there was a lot of energy in the room. The employees were engaged.”
However, returning to their work stations, an employee commented, “Down here we are nothing but a bunch of numbers.” Another said, “All management cares about is making their numbers.”
All organizations, large or small, profit or not-for-profit, must deliver the numbers to be successful.
But it takes a set of humans to operate the maize of systems and processes that produce the numbers. Effective leaders spend time getting to know and respect employees as unique beings with complex needs and dreams.
When leaders care about their employees as persons, they are less likely to see themselves as “just a bunch of numbers.”