We believe our greatest assets are our Employees. And, we behave as if that is true. But being a good steward of human resources doesn’t just happen. It needs a process. The process we use at Berkley Screw Machine Products, Inc. (Rochester Hills, Mich.) is our handbook for Employees.
Our handbook was created so our Employees would clearly know what they are accountable for, and so they could hold the company to the same standard. "Do as I say, not as I do," is not the Berkley Way.
We have a very good hiring process, which every new Employee goes through. All employees start off working in the quality assurance department (every person we hire goes through the same process). While the employees are there, they are tested in several areas as they become accustomed to our procedures and job processes.
This transition time helps the Employees see, check and know our parts, so they get a better understanding of what it is we do at Berkley Screw, and what is important. After several days of becoming accustomed to our processes, the Employees are sent to their own departments by the Quality Assurance Manager.
In addition to having excellent Employees at Berkley Screw, we have excellent Managers. All Managers know their jobs and what their responsibilities are. (We have trained our Managers, and we update them often.) But having excellent Managers is only part of the story. Just as our machinists need the proper tools to do their jobs, our Managers need proper tools.
The tool our Managers use the most is the Employee handbook. Our handbook is a living document. Our labor lawyer reviews it whenever we have to make a major change. The purpose of the Employee handbook is to make sure each person knows his or her responsibilities. The Employee must be made aware of what happens when incorrect choices
We do not have absenteeism or tardiness problems at Berkley Screw. Our people do not arrive late, fail to come in, sleep, read the paper or talk on their cell phones. We don’t attribute that to our hiring practices or our Managers’ styles. And we don’t attribute it to hiring people who aren’t interested in what’s in the paper, get plenty of rest or have no one to talk to on the phone. We attribute it to the fact that every human being wants to do the right thing. Every Employee will rise to our highest expectations if we are clear about what those expectations are.
The Employee handbook makes these expectations perfectly clear. But if one of the problems mentioned does come up, we go right to the handbook and use it to deal with the problem.
Since we are all human, and we all make mistakes, our Managers are there to help our Employees recognize when they do not make the right decisions. It is each Manager’s job to guide Employees in accordance with the handbook to move them in the right direction. That is what management’s responsibility is—to help our Employees operate at their highest and best use. After all, if everyone was perfect, for what would we need Managers?
In the Berkley Screw Handbook, there is a written procedure called an Employee counseling notice. It is used any time an Employee does not make the appropriate choices in any area of the workday. If an Employee makes a mistake, we follow that procedure. If an Employee receives three counseling notices in 1 year’s time (a very rare occurrence), the Employee terminates his or her own employment.
The Counseling Notices recognize and make clear that Employees make the choices and only they can make any changes. We rarely write up anyone. When we do, though, 98 percent of the time the Employees choose to change their behavior.
Just as our shops require machine tools to produce parts, and Employees need hand tools and gages to operate the machines, our Managers need tools to help the Employees and the company produce the highest quality work.
At Berkley Screw, our Employee handbook is such a tool. By making clear what our expectations are, and what the consequences are when those expectations are not met, everyone is on the same page. That is liberating for us all
so we are not wasting time on disagreements over the basics of how we do our jobs.
I hope you have an Employee handbook at your company, and I hope that you walk the talk. We have found our handbook to be an empowering tool for both our Managers and our Employees. It is an important part of our
company’s success. Ultimately, it has also helped us become a better supplier for our customers.