Sharing is Good

A few years ago I learned a valuable lesson.  I was working for a fairly large company in the order/shipping department to improve performance.  We were losing money on mis-picked items.  A customer order would be placed in a box with 1 to 15 items to ship.  That box would travel through our pick line, stopping at various stations, where human operators would pick the items ordered out of a bin, and place it in the box for shipment.  Too often, customers received the wrong items.  Then an employee would go out of sequence, make a special order and ship the correct item, a second time! 

My job was to reduce the number of incorrectly shipped (mis-picked) items.  To do that, I had auditors randomly inspect the pick line orders.  The ship line auditors despised our presence and we saw no marked improvement over the first few months. 

One day we had a meeting with the shift leads on the pick-line to explain why we were doing the audits.  We explained how a small decrease in the percentage of mis-picks would save our company hundreds of thousands of dollars and add to the bottom line.  In turn, this would increase their profit sharing bonus checks.

Over the next year we had a significant reduction in mis-picks and we received record profit sharing.  This happened in large part because we decided to share a little piece of information as to why we are doing what we do.  All too often we are quick to tell people to do something assuming they already know the reasons or don’t care, instead of explaining why!  I was guilty, and from time to time I imagine I still get in that “just do it!” mode.  However, I’ve learned that it is worth a few extra minutes to share the reasons behind our decisions.


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