Article # 34 WORK # 6
I was at a leaders meeting this last week presented by the Denver Institute for Faith and Work. I have written about them in prior blogs as the place I go to get an injection of encouragement because they represent the perfect blend of business and faith. One particular slide from their power point was particularly riveting for me. The average hours worked in a human lifetime is 90,000. A recent Gallup Poll 2023 tallied that 69% of workers are disengaged at work. Not satisfied by just one data point, the recent Barna research of 2018 revealed 72% of Christians were “disintegrated” from their world of work.
Crisis at Workplaces in America-
It is not a mystery why people, a majority of people, seem to be at best, lukewarm toward their worlds of work. The idea of bringing meaning to the time people invest in the world of work is a management challenge but also an opportunity. When I was in training for the Navy, we had a line officer Captain of a guided missile cruiser come and talk to us at our “A school”. We were all being trained to operate within any ship’s combat information center. Everything from radar to sonar to fire control could be accessed from this information nerve center of any ship. There was a direct communication link between the bridge and combat information 24/7. Our job was to get information directly to the operators on the bridge. The line officer Captain was a grizzled, steel blue eyed veteran addressing a bunch of young wide eyed Seaman Apprentices. We were captivated by every word he said. One phrase in particular has stayed with me for all these years.
“THE VERY SOURCE OF THE SAFETY OF EVERY MAN ON MY SHIP EMANATES FROM COMBAT INFORMATION CENTER, THE VERY JOB YOU ARE TRAINING FOR IS VITAL TO OUR SURVIVAL. LEARN WELL. “
It certainly appears as though the captains of commerce and industry and the people in the information centers of enterprises are critically disconnected. This disconnection is at the heart of the productivity of every business in America. It may in fact be the most pressing problem facing our country.
Could a business become a place where people could experience Horizontal Heaven ™?
A CEO of a local manufacturing company was on a flight home from a board meeting. The company is owned by a private equity fund. The entire company operates on a concept called gain sharing. If the company meets certain progress goals everyone in the company gets a share of the profits. The largest customer for this company at that time was the Federal Aviation Administration, a division of the federal government. This was the year of the government shut down. This local manufacturing company had a large amount of finished goods ready to be shipped, sitting in their warehouse. The FAA had no money allocated to pay for the goods due to the shutdown. The local manufacturing company missed their gain sharing measures by a very thin margin. The CEO told the story to the private equity board and requested that the bonuses get paid anyway. The CEO explained when the government opens back up, we will get a double portion – the regular business plus the material stacked in the warehouse. The private equity fund did approve the executive bonus in full but declined the rest of the pay outs. The CEO on the long flight home became more and more disturbed. He phoned his beloved Becky from the plane asked her to put on a pot of coffee. “We have some talking and praying to do.” He also called his chief of staff and asked that the entire executive team of 16 people come in early for a meeting the next morning. Ray did not feel comfortable getting a bonus when his rank and file did not.
He demonstrated leadership when the next morning he told his leadership team of his decision to put his own bonus into a fund to be distributed equitably to the rank-and-file employees. “Now you can all make your own decisions, but this is what Becky and Ray are doing. You have to the end of the day to decide.” All 16 joined Ray in moving their bonus funds into the sharing pool. Ray closed the plant at 3:00 the following Friday to catch both shifts and all the office and sales teams as well. He stood on the gantry of the factory and told the rank and file the story while the accounting teams went through handing out the envelopes to each and every person. It took a while as there were 80 people in the factory. I would have loved to have been in the factory that day. I am guessing I would have experienced Horizontal Heaven™. Ray told me later that it was a powerful moment. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
I sent the painting above to Ray. It is from the Jake Weidmann collection with the title Indivisible. I wrote a note to Ray – this painting tells a story of you and your life where I can’t tell where Jesus leaves off and Ray begins.
If you are a leader of a company, do you lead like Ray? If you work inside an organization, do you feel valued like the people in Ray’s company do?
Building your soul roadmap and then driving upon it gives you the opportunity to be engaged in the world of work, becoming different than the current culture. Wouldn’t it be great if we together could invert those statistics from above into an engaged work force.