Joe CM Lee
MSI ShenZhen Plant Grows Value-Based Culture
Joe CM Lee, VP of the Taiwan-held company MSI, is also the VP of the 7,000+ employee ShenZhen, China plant. By 2011 it was clear the traditional directive leadership style was slowing things down. MSI needed something different. Joe contacted Paulina Chu, Process Consultant, saying “We need change!”
Mr. Lee recalls the turning point. The MSI co-founder commented to him, “I’m noticing that when managers receive instructions, they have a lot of questions, many different ideas, different selection approaches, and different value systems. Managers may ignore my directives. This way is no longer working." This is when Joe saw that the company-wide culture had to change. Members had to be invited into open communication, included in developing real mutual understanding, and decision-making. Only then could a final consensus be clear enough to be acted on.
The change process began with a move to align values and vision, first with the top 12 managers, then moving step-by-step to impact 40, then 155 and then within 3 years to all 7,000+ people. Between 2012 and 2015, Mr. Lee became the role model of a new culture, adopting facilitation and coaching. He says, "Before 2012, we were facing continuous product differentiation, and uncertainty and complexity in projecting future business trends. To operate effectively, we needed higher-level communication and a way to recognize and work with the uncertainty in our future business development.” He continues, “The company was dealing with conflict at many levels -- cross-functional, cross-departmental and individual. This greatly affected the business objectives and outcomes.”
In his initial request for facilitation support, Joe was clear that to remove roadblocks and develop the team's potential, a culture of high participation was necessary. He knew the problem, had a view of the solution, and yet simply had no experience in how to do it. He realized the support of a professional facilitator was needed.
In 2015, 14 1st line managers shared stories of the changes they had recognized in the shift to facilitative and coaching leadership since 2012. Interdepartmental communication had become stronger, teamwork newly showed up throughout the company, the factory changed from relying on performance-driven management to recognizing that people are the key asset. Whereas the previous strategy had been to react to pressure by laying off employees, now the real priority was involvement and growth of its people. New solutions came from there.
And what changes did teamwork bring? Managers reported that in teamwork, collective wisdom was available, creative possibilities showed up, along with a willingness to pitch in. It was a big improvement in overall team harmony, motivation and effectiveness.
What’s the bottom line? Joe CM Lee says, comparing June 2016 with 2013 averages, employee turnover decreased 26%, satisfaction increased 12.4%, operational availability increased 20.2%, WIP (Work in Process) turnover days dropped by more than 80% and employee productivity increased by 32.5%. When asked if they have any ROI figures, Joe just smiles!