Points of IMPACT Process have lasting effects.
Michael R. Scotch
Ken Bratz Consulting IMPACT Process Gave Employee Courage to Speak Up
LOS ANGELES, CA. — Today, Bob Fickes is no stranger to the term “think outside the box.” But that wasn’t the case a few years ago when, as an engineering technician with the former Union Pacific Resources Oil Company in Wilmington, California, it did not matter much to management what Fickes thought.
Employees did their jobs and basically kept quiet. When it came to making decisions, or offering suggestions to help increase the company’s bottom line, management was in charge.
“Now, I think so far out of the box that I wouldn’t even know where to look to find the box,” says Fickes, who recalls how a suggestion he made to management resulted in a savings to Union Pacific of more than $6 million a year in operating costs. “The program (IMPACT Process) opened the lines of communication that allowed me to take what seemed like a silly idea and watch it literally change the way our company operated.”
“It empowered me and gave me courage to speak up,” said Fickes, who is just one of many who are enjoying happier, more fulfilling lives in the workplace because of programs like “Success Through Involvement,” now known as The IMPACT Process. “I feel like the ‘Poster Child’ for that program because of what I was able to help my company achieve.”
“That’s exactly what we expect from the program,” says employee management specialist Ken Bratz who, through his consulting company Ken Bratz Consulting, uses The IMPACT Process when working to help companies resolve problems between management and employee.
“One of the biggest problems in most organizations aside from a lack of communication is a lack of trust,” says Bratz, whose work in management consulting spans more than 30 years. “Trust can only be increased with dialogue; people talking with each other and attempting to understand each others’ viewpoint.
“The most effective means of correcting problems within a system is to let the system fix itself,” Bratz said. “In most cases, it’s the employees who know where the largest problems are within the company and who have the greatest ideas on how to solve those problems. The problem is that management doesn’t always seem to want to hear what employees have to say.”
The key is to create a forum where employees can feel free to express those ideas, Bratz said.
“Through The IMPACT Process, we not only create an environment to get management and employees to talking but we keep them talking,” Bratz said. “Usually, the result is a working environment free of strife, free of mistrust, and one that is very productive.”
“Communication is a focal point in what Bratz and his team at Ken Bratz Consulting works to achieve through training sessions designed to bring management and its employees together. Using a hands-on, one-on-one approach that usually requires dialogue and, in some cases, touching, participants get in touch with reality.
“The old way of running a business was that the boss told and the employee did,” says James Massaro, a Union Pacific supervisor who used to work with Fickes. “Through the IMPACT Process, we did away with that philosophy. We kept two-way communication, but we got the employees involved with some of the decision-making.
“We had a true turnaround situation,” Massaro said of the impact the program had on Union Pacific. “We were losing a million dollars a month before Leadership Resources stepped in to help. As a result of some training, the company went from two managers to one, with everybody working together, and they were able to keep their unit cost down and remain profitable through some very stressful times.”
“We were working pretty feverishly to get the electrical cost down,” Fickes said, who later became energy manager. “They saw this as a solution, tried it and it worked.”
The IMPACT Process has a three-fold focus. First, it provides an infrastructure that manages, measures and encourages whatever change takes place within the company to make sure the new process becomes the “new way of doing things”. Next, it serves to create goals, direction, language, and trust so communication between all parties is clear and everyone understands the goal or mission. And finally, it teaches the organizational and individual skills needed to get the best out of the process.
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