Boeing Frontiers
August 2003
Volume 02, Issue 04
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Integrated Defense Systems

Calming influence

Manager's 'laid-back' approach boosts C-17 teams' performance


Fernandez LockhartBe the best and most productive you can be.

That's the message that Fernandez "Dez" Lockhart passes on to teams that make C-17 wire harnesses at the Strategic Manufacturing Center for electrical products at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Mesa, Ariz.

His successful management formula has generated cash for outstanding performance by the teams he manages and a roadmap for success that can be applied in other areas of the company.

In the past five quarters that Lockhart has been their manager, the 11 C-17 teams in Mesa have earned bonuses every quarter by meeting their goals. The teams have gone from being behind schedule to ahead of schedule, many of the 109 team members who report to Lockhart noted.

"We are more productive working for Dez," said Karen Grote, leader of the "A Team," a high-performance work team that builds large wire harnesses for the C-17. "He's laid back. He tells people what good jobs they are doing. We are caught up on our schedule and everyone is happier and doing a better job."

"He's always positive and creates a relaxed atmosphere so we can concentrate on our work rather than worrying about the little things," said Jon Mathews, leader of "Lords of Braid," the C-17 team that braids harnesses. "You can walk into his office and talk to him about anything."

"You never feel like he's looking over your shoulder, but that he is looking with you and is on your side," said Scott Thilges, leader of the "Killer Queens," a team that builds the oversized wire harnesses for the C-17.

"My main goal was to create an awareness in the teams of cost, schedule and quality and to give the teams an appreciation for their contribution to these factors," Lockhart said. "We reviewed team performance in these areas and figured out where improvement was needed. I knew they were capable

Team testimonial

Comments from team members about Fernandez "Dez" Lockhart's management style read like a management guide to success:

  • He is supportive of new team ideas and will ask for whatever it takes from management to support them.
  • He always asks for opinions of team members.
  • He has an open door policy in which he welcomes and listens to employees.
  • He walks the assembly line every Tuesday and Thursday and talks with each team at work to make sure things are going well.
  • He holds all-hands staff meetings on the first Tuesday of each month to make sure all of his teams receive consistent information.
  • He's always positive and compliments employees on their work.

of reaching great heights. I treat them like adults; I respect their opinions and I give them space to accomplish tasks. I accept ideas and like to keep a fun, positive atmosphere."

Lockhart pointed out that "it's important for employees to see their managers laugh. This breaks down barriers and creates good employee morale. We spend one-third of our lives at work. If we create an environment where people listen and care and enjoy themselves, people won't see this as just a job. We'll get longevity. Employees will have a better image of the company and give back many times by an increase in productivity."

Lockhart said his management style was born from years of observing other management styles and assessing what works and what doesn't.

"I can attribute much of my success to former and present managers, such as Terri Pizzi [now senior manager of Technical Skills Education and Performance Support], who taught me a lot and gave me opportunities to be a production manager, then promoted me to department manager. The integrated product team leaders I have worked for, such as Renee Simons [now the integrated product team leader of the New Business Electrical Product Center], and my current boss [commercial and military transport IPT leader] Mike Boler, have allowed me to implement my own management style.

"But the greatest leverage goes to all the team leaders and teams who have embraced the high-performance work team concept. Their success is my success."



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