IN a rollicking presentation that mixed down-home Texan humor with Scripture and Vince Lombardi with a character named Booger, Dan Baker said that companies must move from an assignment mentality to a relationship-building mentality.
“You've got to start to understand, ‘We're not interested in building trailers anymore — we've got to be interested in the people who are building trailers for us,’” Baker said. “Today, you no longer can be a manager. Today, you've got to think about becoming a leader. You manage machinery and materials. You lead people.
“The companies that can grab these kids (out of college) and corral them until they start maturing are miles ahead of everybody else, because they are solving the labor problem.”
In “The People Side of the Trailer Business,” his wildly entertaining 90-minute presentation, Baker did get serious enough to offer five basic needs people have:
Safety and security. “I've got to feel like where I work is safe for me. Fear closes down innovations and creativity. People have to be able to do their jobs without somebody looking over their shoulder.”
A sense of belonging. “Is this their place? Everybody needs family. In today's sociology, home is just a filling station where people eat standing up and change clothes. Southwest Airlines learned you can take ordinary people and put them in an extraordinary culture and they'll become extraordinary people.”
Recognition. “Learn the names of your employees.”
A sense of accomplishment. “You take your people out when those trailers come off the line and then line them up and take pictures in front of them: ‘These are our trailers. This is the product of our commitment.’ A trailer is not just a trailer. It can be a symbol of a commitment.”
Hope. “Create the nutrients that you'd use to build your culture. If you want your people to do a good job, you give them a good job to do.”
Baker said companies don't have big problems. They have problems that get big.
“What you focus on is what will control your life,” he said. “The good news is that you can choose what you focus on. If you are miserable, it's because you choose to be miserable.”
He said the Law of Perception says, “I treat you as I perceive you.”
“If you don't manage how people perceive you, others will,” he said. “We teach people how to treat us. People respond to you based on how they perceive you perceive them. The highest form of being a leader is one who can be comfortable with himself. You are good because God made you that way. People who are comfortable with themselves are free — free to be themselves and not burdened with the need for approval. Do the right thing. Only happy people are givers.”