The Importance of Appreciation
I just finished an audit of a small oil & gas service and manufacturing company this week. As I sat down to interview the engineering and field service teams, I could sense a little apprehension about the discussion that was about to take place. Maybe they were thinking along the lines of: "What will she think of us?" or "Will we measure up?". In the end, I was very impressed with their processes, their technology, and their customer focus. Of course, there were some things to work on. So how do we, as auditors, consultants, and managers, present these findings?
When I was younger, and less sure about my skills and abilities, I used to criticize the crap out of any work I came across. Eager to show how much value I could add, I wantonly churned out non-conformances like kleenex. When people resisted, I pushed my point of view harder. I felt frustrated a lot. Looking back, I feel bad for those people whose work I trod on, and the unnecessary stress I created for myself. Now, I know how much more of an impact I can have by showing appreciation for other people's hard work, and suggesting ways to continue the fantastic work they are already doing. That doesn't mean "fake praise" - who can't see through meaningless appreciation like "good start!"? But genuinely looking for an organization's strengths and building upon these.
Back to the service and manufacturing company: I found very thorough and well planned out engineering processes, strong change control practices and solid design verification techniques. I also found a few Engineering Change Orders that had not been closed in a timely fashion. Rather than bringing down the hammer, as I might have done in the past, I stated my finding as: "Continue the great work being done on your processes. Periodic auditing may assist with identifying any open or unresolved items." To me, it shows appreciation and respect for the hard work being done by the engineering team, while still adding some value as they continue their journey towards excellence.
Wouldn't it be great if we took the time to show each other just a little more appreciation? How do you show appreciation in your work?