– Hold meetings with the people doing the work.
– No more than 15 at a time. If you don’t know their names use name tags.

– Start off asking open ended questions:
What will make your job easier/more productive/more challenging?
What ideas do you have that haven’t been heard?
If you could change anything what would you change?
What do you see that you can’t understand why it is done that way?
[Do not, repeat, do not ask any questions about their supervisor’s behavior, management style, etc.]

– The key was to write down what they want and then to follow through on it. If you can not meet the request tell them why.

– Advise supervisors in advance of the meetings. That they are not invited. Your intention is to validate the importance of the people that do the work and give them a different forum to make suggestion. The is done in a tone of learning not as an “I got you.” That it is about improving performance not attacking people.

– Supervisors are altered that an objective real time concerns so they may be called into the meeting to share their perspective. Coach supervisors in advance not to be defensive, rather they can ask questions for clarification, pause and then respond.

– Be prepared to have several of these meetings before the people will loosen up. Then be prepared to field tough questions, because they are coming.

– Supervisors were not invited into the meetings. The key here is that when a worker bee says that they spoke to the supervisor and nothing had happened then call the supervisor into the meeting. If he gives an excuse, such as that purchasing will not do it, then called in purchasing. In other words, drill down to find the problem and if possible solve it on the spot.

– The worker bees know or are informed that the big boss will protect them from retaliation of a supervisor.