Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the homebuilding industry as well as construction engineer, site manager and in training, auditing and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental and safety management awards for clients.

Denis is co-author of 'The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence'.

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Don’t paint yourself into a corner and create a negative work environment

Often managers set goals for employees such as a minimum number of units to be produced each week and once this is achieved on a regular basis, then the minimum number is raised and so it continues. This is because of learning curve and assured by a time study.  Sure, however, you are also establishing a never ending game with your staff. Management will always set a goal thinking that it’s one that will stretch us, they will always assume employees will try to play the game and work slower during work studies and so the cycle of gamesmanship continues. This really is about trust. Once in this cycle it is hard to end it. It can be ended and a more trusting working relationship can be established, but that’s going to be a big bump in the road. I’ve heard many say well we will give rewards for doing good work to get us started to help us hit the initial goals and then we will end them.  Why deliberately put yourself in this situation? I have seen this situation get to the point that no employee will help another out, the best performers in the company refuse to share tips and best practices. Why should they? Management have established the game and they are playing it correctly! Why hurt themselves by taking time out of their workday to help another employee to get better, the time lost just meant they haven’t made the most units that day and lost the bonus! There is no teamwork in this organization, not only are staff pitted against management but it is also staff member against staff member.  The game management has created is actually hurting the company as a whole.

Reward and recognition is one thing that’s about appreciation, but ‘gaming’ each other with constant sticks and carrots is another. 

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