Consultant's book will help zap some tired, old notions

November 25, 1991|By Gerald Graham | Gerald Graham,Knight-Ridder

"People moved with purpose. They worked with purpose. They talked with purpose."

Purpose, energy and excitement -- ZAPP! -- are what Joe and Ralph observed in the delightfully, insightful parable of an empowered company, created by author and consultant William Byham in his book, "ZAPP."

The parable explains that ZAPP is not merely pep talks, higher pay, participative management, flat organizations, better communication or job security. Each of these programs may produce some improvement in some organizations, but they lack the staying power of ZAPP.

While managers cannot order ZAPP, they can create it by applying the following.

* Self esteem. "Marty, I like how you keep your work area clean." "Dan, what I was really trying to say earlier was that I think you're usually a first-rate worker."

Joe learned this from Lucy, manager of Department Z, an unusually energized work group. With these expressions, Joe began to see little flickers of small but visible lightning (evidence of ZAPP) emerging in his department.

* Listen and respond with empathy. Joe also observed that Lucy listened, really listened.

When an employee approached Lucy, she looked at the person, nodded her head appropriately; and when the speaker finished, Lucy repeated a little summary of what she heard. This made the lightning glow brighter.

* Ask for help. When a monster invaded Joe's department (a problem occurred), he usually asked the expert firefighters to come in and pour water everywhere. They put the fire out, but Joe's people were left shaken and afraid.

Of course, dragons occasionally dropped in on Lucy's department, also. But at the first dragon scent, Lucy said to her staff, "We have a problem. I'd like your help."

Lucy's people talked among themselves, created a plan and slew the dragon. Afterward, the entire department felt a sense of pride.

By applying these principles, Joe also improved his delegating, communicating, coaching, and team-H building skills. The results were DAZZLING!

In need of ZAPP?

Check all of the following that your employees typically do on their own:

1. Determine who works on what

2. Handle absenteeism problems

3. Select their own team leader

4. Seek opportunities to improve quality

5. Implement cost-saving ideas

6. Schedule vacations

7. Perform routine maintenance

8. Manage their own feedback systems

9. Work with enthusiasm

10. Light up the place with their results

Interpretation. Unless you checked seven or more, your department may be in need of ZAPP empowerment.

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