The Carpet People
November 23, 2020
The other day I had the opportunity to hear a manager give a 15-minute presentation about things their company was doing to improve productivity, morale and communication. The manager got my attention instantly when he said his employees were always complaining about the “CARPET PEOPLE.”
He had just been promoted as the new boss of one of the largest manufacturing facilities his company operated in the United States. A couple of days after his arrival he heard the term CARPET PEOPLE. He said that he didn’t want to look like an idiot not knowing what the term CARPET PEOPLE stood for … so he kept his mouth shut for a while, hoping he would eventually figure it out; but to no avail. He finally pulled one of his employees aside and asked what the term meant.
That employee said the term CARPET PEOPLE was directed at management. The only place in their enormous manufacturing facility that had carpet on the floor was in the offices where management worked. If a question had to be answered, they had to go talk to the CARPET PEOPLE. No supervisors had offices on the main manufacturing floor … so production employees would always have to waste time and go find the CARPET PEOPLE to get an answer. It was not meant as an endearing term … I can assure you. It was an US vs. THEM mentality.
He said that once he understood the term and why it was being used, he immediately changed things. He didn’t want production stopping on the factory floor because his employees had to go find a CARPET PERSON … so he had those offices moved … to front and center on the factory floor, where production managers could be quickly located; it should also be noted … they had NO CARPET in their offices on the factory floor.
I’ve heard the CARPET PEOPLE also be called (in other companies) the “Shiny Shoes”, the “White Coats”, and the “Suits”. In a lot of companies, the moment employees see “THESE PEOPLE” heading their way… they want to run, hide, look busy, and they know whatever they do … don’t get in their way, don’t strike up a conversation, don’t make a suggestion and don’t ask them a question.
That type of working environment is so wrong. I learned years ago that effective managers help people get better and should be looked on as a“knowledge base” for employees to call on anytime to help evaluate, correct, adjust, or address any tough situation they can’t handle.
If management is asking for teamwork, collaboration, synergy, unity, cooperation, looking for camaraderie, wanting employee input, seeking suggestions and new ideas…then management needs to pay attention to how they are being perceived. A hierarchy, top down, status based, authority riddle, pecking order … doesn’t seem to be very conducive to creating any of the things I just mentioned.
Take note of the things you are doing that separates management from everyone else and try to minimize it as much as possible. There is a big gap of dissension between the Carpet People and having true teamwork.
You Don’t Mandate Unity – You Cultivate It
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