Communication in the Workplace

Stories of businesses who have found a way to make things work through human communication, real human contact
From The Soul at Work by Roger Lewin and Birute Regine
Story I:”DuPont: Down on the Plant”
“When Dick Knowles arrived as Belle’s new plant manager in April of 1987, he knew he faced an uphill battle, both to get the plan working efficiently again and thus avoid the loss of jobs, and to heal the relationship with the surrounding community.”Dick Knowles was unwillingly transferred to this severely deficient problem plant because he was having a relationship with a co-worker in Niagara Falls, NY.It was either get fired, or move to Belle, SC.He moved.
“Gradually Dick developed a style of management practice that is advocated by complexity science:namely, valuing people for themselves, attending to relationships, stripping down hierarchy, including everyone in a rich web of information flow.”This plant was like a sick person in need of healing.They had far too many accidents and injuries, and almost all of the workers were just going through the motions of their jobs.Knowles “decided myfirst objective would be to meet everyone, every single person in the plant, within six weeks.You do that by walking around, just talking to people, listening to them, that way you tap into the life of the organization.I did that for five hours a day, every day, and I continued doing it throughout my eight years there”He went on, “There were just too many accidents, and yet managers were abdicating their responsibility on this, always blaming someone else.I demanded that managers know what was going on.The workers complained that management wasn’t doing anything about it or asking for help.They were very frustrated.”
After a few years, things started to get better, and Knowles felt he was making real contact with people there.One incident that marked his experience was when a group of the most notably diff…