Ever Been Motivated by a Poster?


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Imagine you make fish fingers for a living…

Don’t laugh, it is a tough job I used to do it, I smelled awful after an 8 hour night shift cutting up blocks of frozen cod.  The icy, sleety, wind from the North Sea was a positive boon when I walked out of the plant 6 in the morning.

Productivity was never where we wanted it, costs were high, product quality was dreadful and no matter how hard we tried we could never get the products on the supermarket’s shelves when the customer wanted them.

Apart from the smell, you’d feel right at home

The problems are the same and so are the solutions. Productivity is a staff issue, if your staff are more productive then your business will be more productive.  And because productivity is a staff issue the solution is obviously more communication.  If you let your workforce know how they are doing and give them some encouragement that will solve the problem.

Nearly every fish finger factory I have walked around (or shop or call centre) uses the same approach…

It normally looks a bit like this

Quality Poster

Followed up with a some of this

Quality Results

Do the posters help?

Put yourself in the shoes (or wellies) of the man on the shop floor. What can he do to improve performance?

His reality is:

  • Blocks of frozen fish that have been left out and gone soft
  • A band saw that needs a new blade
  • A job lot of dodgy breadcrumbs that the buyer got cheap
  • A supervisor who is only worried about his cost target

And the management solution is a poster of a bunch of smug 20 year olds (who have never been anywhere near Grimsby in their lives) telling him to work harder and a graph to prove the point.

How would you feel?

Posters aren’t the solution

People need to know how they are doing, show them the numbers, but instead of the inane 20 somethings and snazzy slogans, how about publishing a list of things that have been done to improve the business.

This month we have:
  • Added a sharpener to the band saw
  • Renegotiated our supply of breadcrumbs
  • Improved timeliness of fish block delivery

Than ask for suggestions.  The man in wellies might have an idea or two to share.

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Fish Fingers

Images by Craig Sunter and 드림포유

Read another opinion

Republished with author's permission from original post.

James Lawther
James Lawther is a middle-aged middle manager. To reach this highly elevated position he has worked for many organisations, from supermarkets to tax collectors and has had multiple roles from running a night shift to doing operational research. He gets upset by operations that don't work and mildly apoplectic about poor customer service.


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