01.00 am, after the shop floor tour
Updated: Jan 11, 2019
It's a nice, warm and clear sky, weather in the Netherlands tonight. After a standard morning at the head offices I have been flying to our Dutch factory. After the usual "airport, plane, airport, rental car drive" sequence I met with some local managers and then had a walk around 17.00 pm at the shop floor. These 2 hours walking tours are pretty usual. It's a way to connect with the operators. In an industrial manufacturing company these colleagues are usually aware of the pulse of the activity.
- They feel the quality that is going out of the lines,
- They feel the challenges of stretched specifications required by the market
- They feel if the company is doing well, or too well, or not so well
- They feel if their team leaders or their managers are enjoying their days
- They feel if they would encourage someone to come and work here
So, to get these feelings and in order to keep trying to know as many colleagues as possible I walk and talk. It became a tradition. They know that chances are high to see me once a month at least. These shop floor visits are planned in my personal agenda at the beginning of the year, for the full year. It's not allowed to move them. For 10 years now.
At the beginning, when I took over as CEO, many thought that this was just going to be a temporary "show". "The new kid on the block want to show he takes care." "Respect, core values, bla bla bla etc..."
Well, 10 years later, month after month it's still taking place. And it's not only taking place at 17.00 pm. Most shop floors are running in shifts. So, I follow the shift pattern as much as possible. (3 shifts were easy, 5 shifts became a bit tricky to follow on a monthly pattern). Therefore tonight the walking tour did take place again at 11:00 pm, to see the night shift.
They usually talk more during the night. Maybe because it's a bit quieter in the plant? Maybe, because there are fewer people around, the discussions can be a bit more "private"? Maybe they feel it's an atmosphere that encourage trust? Maybe I am more approachable? I am not sure, but what I have been experiencing, months after months, night shifts after night shifts, is that the link built with the operators became much stronger.
And tomorrow it will be at 09:00 am to see the morning shift. Then I can still meet with managers, the plant director, a customer visiting the factory or a colleague from the HQ having meetings at the plant. And then it will be the usual "car, airport, plane, train" journey back home.
But before that, let me enjoy my moment, my 01.00 am after the shop floor tour. I have just finished the walking tour. And I feel good. It's so quiet outside after 2 hours in the factory. I am full of positive energy. That energy that you get from speaking openly with people, from sharing small talks that are so important in our H2H world (Humans 2 Humans). That energy that grows when people take care of others, speak to each other, learn from each other. I feel I did something that matters, at least to a few. I feel we were, again this night, part of a community.
Author: Igor Allinckx