Over the years, I’ve been on a lot of “plant tours.” Usually, our guide is the owner or CEO or plant manager, and the focus is usually on the systems and equipment being used in each step of the manufacturing process. But awhile ago, I was on a tour that was fundamentally different in that the focus was on the people doing the work. In this case, the owner was our tour guide, and at each work station, he introduced us to whoever was operating that station. He would always introduce that person as a consummate professional saying something like, “I’d like you all to meet Harry James. Harry has been with the company for 15 years, and not only can he take this machine apart and put it back together blindfolded, he can make it do things it was never designed to do.” Then he would ask Harry to explain his work and how it fit into the overall manufacturing process. This routine was repeated again and again at each work station, and in each case, the employee spoke with authority and easy competence.
It was obvious that the company had invested a lot in training its people well. But it was also obvious that the culture in that company made people feel important, honored, and trusted. Of course, the owner was leading our tour, but I have no doubt that his people would have performed just as efficiently and effectively whether he was present or not.
If you make people understand the importance of what they do, train them to do it well, and give them positive feedback so they know they are performing at a high level (and that their performance is noticed), self-confidence inevitably follows. Self-confidence plays a huge role, not only in the employee’s effectiveness, but also in the employee’s job satisfaction. It seems to me that if the result is a more effective, content employee, then the effort to promote self-confidence in your work force is well worth the investment.