Industrial birds and bees

Here is one of the least intuitive lessons (to me at least) that young supervisors learn: Most individuals tend to perform at about the same level across all the facets of their jobs. That is, barring special circumstances, someone with great attendance usually also works hard and produces good quality products. By the same token, an employee who has trouble getting out of bed in the morning is unlikely to be a huge asset once he arrives at work. Call it consistency of conduct.

Occasionally there are exceptions, but they usually stem from problems that can be solved with a little help from a good supervisor. For example, a single parent who has several kids to get to school or day care is a possible exception to the rule of consistency. But shift adjustments or daycare help can usually bring these kinds of issues under control. Opportunities for flexibility depend on the workplace, of course.

Consistency of conduct also provides some supervisory tools that may be worthy of discussion. For instance, if a company were to provide prizes for perfect attendance, they would generally find themselves rewarding their top quality workers, too. Since attendance is easier to measure than, say, level of effort, this can be a helpful notion.
Another more complex behavior that should be cultivated and rewarded is willingness to work outside the silo, or cross-functionally. Project work, unlike most day-to-day routine, often takes the form of doing extra work in our own areas that delivers benefits to people outside our areas. A program honoring or rewarding individuals who provide cross-functional help can be a real boost to morale and project performance. The engineer best loved by maintenance or production is a very valuable person. The trainer who makes sure he or she really gets the lessons across to production troops can be indispensable.

A side benefit of rewarding other people's employees is that it provides managers with a gentle reminder that their world should transcend their departments. After all, it is very hard for maintenance or engineering to be successful while production fails.

This kind of thinking helps to build organizational cultures and project designs that deliver solid results. If a work plan identifies needed behaviors and the reward systems support them, execution gets a lot easier. Or, as a great industrial ornithologist once said, "Once you have your ducks in a row, all you need to do is feed your eagles and starve your turkeys."