Dog and Pony Show
Originally uploaded by cj_weinberg
You've been there, right?
The boss' boss calls and says that the Senior Yuppy-yup of some important department at the highest levels of the Puzzle Palace has decided to visit your operation for a tour. Just to make it more interesting, all of the underlings of said Senior Yuppy-yup want to tag along. The icing on the cake, of course, is that your boss' boss is coming too. The boss begins to sweat because he knows this will be another opportunity to be told just how much his operation sucks and how much more he and his team should be doing.
"The Next Big Tour" is an unfortunate necessary evil in any corporation with multiple sites. The larger the company and the more insulated and removed the upper management, the more likely that this visit will create angst and anxiety and be a huge waste of time for everyone except your visitors.
Large corporations tend to lose touch with the real workforce. These types of tours are often only "conscience easers" for the big guys.
"We live but to serve, my liege!"
For corporate leaders to really understand what is going on in the plants, individual informal visits are more helpful. During those visits, they should talk to small groups of workers alone. Frank feedback is more likely in that setting. If the corporate culture is one of low trust, i.e. no one would dare tell the emperor he's naked, then any type of visit from on high will be unproductive for the plant. In these environments, the big guy will only be told what he wants to hear.
Do the plants a favor, big guys. Figure out where the trust level is, and do whatever it takes to build that up first. Figure out how to get honest information and be worthy of the trust you seek. Be genuine. Be real. Make eye-contact. Try to remember people's names. Praise loudly and criticize softly. Earn respect, don't expect it just because you're important.
I wish you luck in figuring it out and if you need help in that department, drop me a line.
It's something I can help you do!