To fuel these efforts, Minite says it’s important to offer incentives to provide that initial spark, and then to divulge the necessary information to sustain each initiative. Since implementing the QUEST program, the leader has ushered in an era of continuous improvement that has boosted quality, fostered environmental sustainability and pushed 2007 revenue to $154.6 million.
Smart Business spoke with Minite about incentives, eco-consciousness and how to communicate while stretching.
Set out on your own quest. A QUEST team is driven by individuals. The manager doesn’t manage the team. The team manages itself. They come up with the ideas and put the process in place to fix that problem.
The finishing department, let’s just say, they’re seeing some challenges in production. A team of people will come together and form a QUEST team in finishing and say, ‘Based on the information that we’ve been provided daily, weekly or monthly, we see that we have this issue in these five particular products.’
They analyze that, they see it, and then they build a process improvement around it to ensure that they can fix that problem. They’re saying, ‘If we don’t hit this, we could get affected financially from what we could earn as our upside potential.’
(Their process) will go through a supervisor and then to a manager, and then that plan is implemented.
It’s cost improvement. It’s process improvement. It’s quality improvement.
Lay out incentives. The single biggest thing that’s required is giving a vision to people of what the company could look like if everybody was engaged.
Set goals. ‘Here’s that big, universal company, and here’s all the parts and pieces of it. If we successfully execute on all these pieces, here’s what we achieve professionally in our career. Here’s what we achieve financially in our income.’
Whenever you have an opportunity to enhance someone’s income with their efforts and their service to the organization, that bodes well for people jumping and saying, ‘I want to make a difference.’
When they can see that they can make a difference and their compensation and their personal growth is tied to that, it goes a long way.
Divulge information when articulating goals. Every morning we do stretching exercises here. In the process of doing stretching exercises, a supervisor is talking about the goals of the day: ‘We need to ship 30,000 yards today.’
In that stretching exercise, there’s that daily communication to our associates regardless of the shift and regardless of the department. Whether you’re up on the executive floors or you’re working in the tufting area or the finishing area, you’re communicated with at the same level.
We show right down to the production yards here, and we show right down to the dollars: ‘Here’s the profitability. Here’s why we weren’t as profitable as we wanted to be this month because we had this quality issue or we had this issue hit us.’
When you can articulate to your associates on a regular basis through good, solid communication where they stand, no one can ever say to you, ‘Hey, I didn’t know that.’ That makes a difference in any organization.
Focus on the health of your employees, not just of your company. We have a nutritionist on staff who helps our people with their diets. We have a gym here that’s open all three shifts that people can go to and work out.
(The benefits are) twofold.
People say, ‘Wow, my company cares about me.’
Furthermore, it lowers my days off from sick time and people being out. Workers’ compensation costs have been reduced significantly. Our insurance company looks on that kindly.
You’ve got to really ease into (these programs). Whether it be changing two snacks in the vending machine at a time, you don’t want to come in with the sledgehammer. The ‘crawl before you walk’ approach for this type of program is key.
Practice sustainability. As business leaders, we have to play a part in what our future generations are going to have to deal with that we leave.
It is about economic and environmental leadership. You can be a profitable company by reducing your environment footprint and still serving your customer with beautiful products.
Look at raw materials coming in: ‘How do we get products here that are made with more recycled content? How do we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by changing some production procedures?’
All of those things that we look at not only have an environment impact analysis done, but they have an economic impact done. ...
No. 2, it has made us more socially aware. ... Have people buy in to that kind of ground-swell approach to it.
Sustainability is something that can be driven at every level.
HOW TO REACH: Bentley Prince Street Inc., (800) 423-4709 or www.bentleyprincestreet.com