Creating Engaged Change.
What Happens When People Are Allowed To Care About What They Do. “The Results”
Instinctively we know that giving people respect and valuing them is the right thing to do.
We have been able to see why when you treat someone as if they are valuable, that is what they become.
What we have talked about is logical, based on our understanding of people and what motivates or de-motivates them.
In the preceding chapters we have seen what has already happened to produce the results documented in this article.
In one operation, called “Rig Skidding”, the workforce, who had been described initially as “Intimidated and Silent“, were allowed to take control of their own performance.
Three months later they were described by the same commentator as “Knowledgeable and Proud”.
This is their story.
A drilling rig can only drill one well from one location.
When a well is
completed the rig has to move in order to start the next well to ensure that the drilled holes do not interfere with each other.
In this case the distance moved was about 15 metres.
Because the rig has no wheels it is simply dragged, with large hydraulic jacks, from one location to the next. The operation to move the rig from one position to the next is therefore known as “Skidding the Rig”.
The graph below shows how crews performance in this one operation went from 8.5 hours in the beginning to less than 1 hour three weeks later. That performance improvement was then sustained for the next seven months.
The improvement was created by the workforce themselves who instead of being told what they should be doing, were asked what it was that they needed to do in order to improve their own performance.
This approach engaged the workforce in the control of the process.
By listening to and using the workforce’s own suggestions the value and respect that they began to feel started to allow them to engage.
In the first two days the workforce gave 74 different suggestions to improve the operation.
By incorporating their suggestions into the operation and giving the workforce positive feedback about the value of these ideas, performance began to improve, as recorded on the graph below.
It can be argued that this performance improvement was not a function of engagement at all but the application of 74 new ideas to the process of “Skidding the Rig.”
It would be easy on the surface to support this argument were it not for a very curious thing that happened shortly after that initial performance improvement was made.
The same workforce, having become proud of the massive changes they had made in the Rig Skidding operation, turned their attention to another operation called “Running the Liner”.
When a well is drilled the bit is withdrawn and the rock formation that has been drilled is exposed. Unsupported, this formation will over time collapse into the well bore, blocking it and preventing oil production. To keep the bore open a steel liner is run into the well. The liner supports the formation. In this case the liner had a diameter of seven and a quarter inches.
The liner is run into the well in thirty foot lengths which are screwed together on the drill floor.
This operation to screw the joints of liner together and run them into the well is known as “Running the Liner”.
These wells were six thousand feet long. 200 thirty foot long joints of liner had to be screwed together and fed into the well.
The workforce were asked exactly the same questions they had been asked about skidding the rig, “What did they need to get better at this operation?”
The crew, who on the back of their previous success were by now were extremely motivated, thought long and hard but could not come up with a single idea that would improve the operation.
All the equipment worked, everything they needed was where it should be and there were sufficient people.
In addition their current performance at sixteen joints per hour was the best that they had ever achieved, it felt good, so they went back to work.
The only difference was that now there was a chart of the crews performance and they could see at any time how they were performing. No comment was made about how they were performing.
The chart was simply information that was now made available to them.
The next time they ran well liner they increased their performance by 12.5% to eighteen joints per hour and the next time it improved to twenty four joints per hour, a total increase of 50% in two runs.
The workforce were now working at almost world record speed (Twenty Five Joints/Hr) having made no changes at all to the way that the operation was physically carried out.
The only difference between running at sixteen joints per hour and twenty four joints per hour was the attitude and behaviour of the workforce.
Running at sixteen joints per hour they would lean on the rail and, looking out at the jungle, would swap gossip and tell tall tales.
When they were running at twenty four joints per hour they did exactly the same thing, they leaned on the rail and gossiped.
The difference was that now when they were waiting for the next joint they did not look out at the jungle. They looked inwards to the rig floor where the liner was being prepared.
They knew exactly when they were needed and nobody had to call their attention back from the jungle. As soon as they were needed they were ready.
The evidence of the effect of their change of attitude was the sustained change from sixteen to twenty four joints per hour.
A performance improvement of 50% in the space of two runs.
There was no change at all in the process, the workforce had simply been allowed to feel proud of what they did. They had become engaged.
That was the difference.
No workshops, no questionnaires, no analysis, no training.
The workforce had always wanted to do a good job but were not allowed to do a good job because of the lack of recognition and support that they received from their managers.
When they were given the recognition and support that they needed to do a good job their performance became amazing.
To improve performance it is not the process that is important.
What is important is the people who apply the process and how they are allowed to feel about what they do.
We all have the ability to affect the way that people feel about what they do.
When we make them feel bad their performance is ordinary and they do not engage.
When we recognise and support them they start to feel good about what they do and their performance becomes extraordinary, they engage.
We all have a choice.
Do we continue to achieve ordinary results?
Or do we choose to produce the extraordinary?