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GENERAL MOTORS Activities aim to expand contact between workers, community



Published: Fri, October 1, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



The breakfast marks the start of Diversity Month.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

LORDSTOWN -- Who you know is just as important as what you know when it comes to building business.

So said a General Motors executive hoping to help the automaker's Lordstown complex build stronger, more efficient teams by expanding the networks of people workers know and trust.

Individuals and companies with a wide range of contacts can leverage their social capital, or networks of co-workers, friends and associates, to find the best solutions to problems and develop the best plans of action, said Gregory S. Hall, manager of corporate relations, at GM's Public Policy Center in Detroit.

Hall delivered the keynote address during the annual diversity breakfast at the Lordstown Metal Center.

The event marks the start of Diversity Month and is sponsored by Diversity Works, Partners for Workplace Diversity.

If everyone a person knows well enough to trust thinks alike, Hall said, the range of possible solutions to problems is very limited. But, if people with different perspectives get together, there will be many more ideas and a better solution can be developed. To find the best solution, he said, "you must form relationships with others who are not just like you."

Reciprocity rings

Among the activities designed to help GM employees forge these relationships is a workshop on reciprocity rings.

Reciprocity rings are groups of individuals who come together to solve a problem and in the process, form relationships that they continue to draw on.

Humax Corp., of Ann Arbor, Mich., developed the program to help businesses achieve measurable improvement in efficiencies, improve collaboration among employees, build high-performance teams and, among other benefits, encourage creativity and innovation in the workplace.

The reciprocity rings workshop will build a stronger network inside the plant, Hall said.

It will also build a stronger network in the community.

Initially, Hall said, GM planned to introduce the reciprocity rings to its employees, but managers at the Lordstown complex suggested inviting the public to participate. By including individuals from outside GM -- leaders in the community -- the automaker's network will expand exponentially and that's good for business, Hall said.

He is also helping workers at the Lordstown complex to forge diverse relationships through volunteer opportunities and said he "can't think of a more exciting way to celebrate diversity than through volunteerism."

The 21/2-hour reciprocity rings workshop is free and slated for 9 a.m. Thursday morning at the GM Lordstown Metal Center.

kubik@vindy.com




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