Floor Tape Store

Monday, April 15, 2024

Listening is the Key to Effective Communication

Communication is an essential part of our lives, and it's something we do all day, every day. However, have you ever found yourself in a conversation where you feel like the other person isn't really listening? Or have you ever been so focused on what you want to say that you're not paying attention to what the other person has said?

We've all been there, but the truth is, listening is the key to effective communication. Listening is one of the most powerful tools you possess as a leader – and can help build trust and loyalty with your team.

Hearing and listening, though synonymous, are completely different things. Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus.  Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body.  In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.  Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages.

Listening is not automatic.

It takes practice.

It takes intention.

It is a skill — one that is capable of being not only honed but lost.

Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood – communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.

Listening is so important that many top employers provide listening skills training for their employees.  This is not surprising when you consider that good listening skills can lead to: better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, and increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work.

Here are ten useful tips that can help you become a good listener:

1. Take time to listen.  Obviously, there are times when you're busy for extended discussions.  But you need to set aside times when you can listen carefully to employee's problems, reactions, concerns, and suggestions.

2.  Let employees know that you're approachable.  Adopt an "open door" policy.  That is, communicate your willingness to hear what employees have to say.  Demonstrate that it's safe to talk to you.

3.  Put the other person at ease. Give them space and time and "permission" to speak their peace.   Watch how you look at them, how you stand or sit, it makes a huge difference. Relax, and let them relax as well.

4.  If people don't come to you, go to them.  Some employees may take advantage of your "open door" by approaching you with their concerns.  Others will be reluctant to do so, for any of a variety of reasons (shyness, fear of being judged, unwillingness to complain about others, and so on).

5. Set-up multiple means, both formal and informal, for communicating with employees.  Some employees are comfortable talking face to face.  Others would rather send a note by email.  Some will speak up during a formal team meeting.  Others will reveal their concerns only in casual conversations around the snack machine.  Make multiple possibilities available so that you hear from everyone.

6.  Pay attention to nonverbal signals: tone, vocalizations (such as "um," "uh," laughs, and sighs), body postures, and gestures.  Often a person will say one thing but signal nonverbally that the true meaning is different.  For instance, "okay" said with a deep sigh does not really mean "okay."

7. Remove distractions. Good listening means being willing to stop working on a computer, close a door, stop reading your email, or only answer emergency calls. Give the speaker your full attention and let them know they are getting your full attention.

8.  Avoid anticipation.  Don't jump to conclusions or assume that you understand a person's comment before he or she has finished talking.  You may misunderstand, or you may discourage people from saying what they truly mean.

9.  Suspend judgment.  Don't decide on the spot whether the speaker is right or wrong.  Wait until you have a chance to think the matter over.

10. Use active listening techniques.  Active listening means taking an active part in the conversation to make sure you are grasping fully what the speaker is trying to say.  Active listening involves techniques such as these:

·        Attending. Focusing closely on the speaker and maintaining eye contact.

·        Paraphrasing. Repeating what the speaker has said in your own words, giving him or her an opportunity to correct you if you have misunderstood: "You're saying that the procedure seems too complicated, is that it?"

·        Summarizing.  Offering an occasional summary of the main points made so far: "Let's see, you've mentioned three problems…"

·        Interpretation checking.  Stating your interpretation of what the speaker is conveying – both ideas and feelings – and asking if you're correct: "It sounds like you're upset that you didn't get earlier feedback on you handling of this project, is that right?"

·        Using clarifying questions.  Asking questions that attempt to make a point clearer or more explicit:  "Are your suggesting we change our procedures?"

·        Using probing questions.  Asking questions that encourage the other person to expand or elaborate on what was said: "I think I see the problem, but why do you think it happened?"

Good listeners become good communicators.  They understand the importance of speaking clearly in an easy-to-understand manner.  When it's hard to interpret what you mean, you greatly increase the chances of a misunderstanding.

Many successful leaders and entrepreneurs credit their success to effective listening skills. Effective listening is a skill that underpins all positive human relationships, spend some time thinking about and developing your listening skills – they are the building blocks of success.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Friday, April 12, 2024

Lean Quote: Honesty is Most Important Factor on Success

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Honesty is the most single most important factor having a direct bearing on the final success of an individual, corporation, or product.  —  Ed McMahon

Leadership with honesty is essential for building trust, fostering a positive work culture, and driving successful outcomes. Honesty in leadership means being transparent, sincere, and straightforward with your team and stakeholders. It involves being open about your intentions, decisions, and actions, as well as being willing to admit your mistakes and learn from them.

Honesty is a key component of effective communication, as it helps to establish credibility and build relationships based on mutual respect. When leaders are honest with their team, they create an environment of trust and openness, which fosters collaboration and encourages honest feedback. This, in turn, can lead to better decision-making, problem-solving, and innovation.

Openness and honesty at work make for an environment where people feel trusted, especially by company leadership. When you have an environment where information is communicated with clarity, it opens the door for greater connection and productivity.

Honesty is important for maintaining the integrity of your organization. When leaders act with honesty and transparency, they set an example for the rest of the team to follow. This can help to build a strong, ethical culture that is committed to doing the right thing, even when it's difficult.

Integrity is the soul of every business. A leader must always walk his talk. An honest leader is a successful leader. As a leader, your honesty will enable your team members to trust your leadership.

Honesty really is the best policy. It all has to start with you, the leader. Model the culture you want to see.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

How Can You Be a More Effective Lean Leader

Lean thinking is fundamentally transforming the way organizations operate. The Lean principles of continuous improvement, respect for people, and a relentless focus on delivering customer value are making teams and organizations rethink the practices that might have guided them for decades.

For Lean to be truly effective, it needs effective Lean Leadership — to champion Lean principles, offer guidance, and ensure that Lean is being used to optimize the entire organizational system for value delivery.

Here are six things you can do to become a more effective lean leader.

Show Respect for People:

Respect for people is a fundamental principle of Lean Leadership. It involves creating a work environment where employees feel valued, empowered, and respected. Lean leaders listen to their teams, involve them in decisions, and support their growth and development with resources. Leaders create a respectful culture where employees can share ideas, skills, and knowledge to enhance processes and promote innovation.

Provide Vision and Purpose

Lean leaders need to establish a clear vision and purpose for the organization’s Lean journey. They should communicate the importance of Lean principles and how they align with the overall mission and strategic goals. A compelling vision provides direction and serves as a guiding light for employees, inspiring them to actively participate in Lean initiatives.

Lead by Example

Leaders must lead by example and demonstrate their commitment to Lean principles. They should participate in Lean practices like going to the workplace, solving problems, and making continuous improvements. By visibly practicing Lean principles and lean management tools, leaders inspire others and create a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Go to the Gemba

A lean leader must go to the gemba as often as possible. They must be present on the job site on a regular basis, actively engaging with the people closest to the customer- rather than spending most of their time in the office or conference rooms. This, as a result, ensures that they are able to truly understand the real situation, allowing them to take effective actions to improve performance.

A true lean leader frequents the workplace both when things are going well, and when problem arise - otherwise, employees are less likely to communicate the real situation if their boss only shows up when problems occur.

Foster Collaboration and Communication

Lean leadership emphasizes collaboration and communication among team members. By fostering an environment of open communication and encouraging teamwork, you can promote idea sharing and problem solving. Consequently, this can lead to innovative solutions and a more cohesive team that is better equipped to achieve your lean goals.

Empower Your Team

Empowering your team is a key aspect of lean leadership. So, you need to give your team the tools and resources they need to identify and solve problems on their own. This means creating a culture of continuous improvement, where everyone is encouraged to contribute ideas and suggestions for improvement.

Lean leadership is all about commitment; commitment to your employees, commitment to the system and commitment to making changes towards improvement. The highest commitment in Lean Leadership has to be towards your employees; your people. In any company, the people working for it are it’s greatest asset. You need to listen to your people and ensure they have the right tools and knowledge to perform their jobs correctly. Lean leadership focuses more on working with your people rather than having your people work for you.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Monday, April 8, 2024

The Role of a Lean Leader

There is often a missing link in many Lean organizations - which is, the set of leadership structures and behaviors that constitute a lean management system. People frequently equate ‘Lean' with the tools used to standardize processes and generate efficiencies; and organizations tend to focus more on the implementation of these tools. However, implementing tools only accounts for, at most, 20% of the effort needed in lean transformations. The remaining 80% should be spent on changing leaders' behaviors and practices; and eventually their mindsets.

Lean leadership bridges a crucial divide: the gap between lean thinking and lean tools. Lean leaders have an essential role to play in lean transformations.

What’s Lean Leadership?

Lean leadership is all about commitment; commitment to your employees, commitment to the system and commitment to making changes towards improvement. Leaders in a lean environment need good communication skills to understand the problems their people face.

Lean leaders can give their teams the tools to succeed and encourage them to make wise decisions that lead to long-term, competitive growth. It typically involves helping individuals achieve professional and personal progress and acknowledging their contributions to the workplace. This type of leadership can foster a culture of continuous improvement through employee engagement, decision-making and communication.

Here are some roles and responsibilities of lean leaders:

Coach and develop others

As a leader, it may be your responsibility to help others improve. Coaching can enable continuous improvement and personal growth. When your teammates reach their full potential, this can ultimately make your task as a leader easier. Coaching can also enable you to take an interest in your team's development and show that you care about their success, possibly making them more loyal to the company. Giving your team the tools to succeed and encouraging them to make wise decisions can lead to long-term, competitive growth. Mentoring employees can also make them more valuable to the company.


The lean leader should serve their team by providing support, guidance, and development opportunities while challenging them to improve performance. Lean leaders must challenge their teams to go beyond their comfort zones and aim to achieve excellence. This can involve setting ambitious goals, providing feedback, and encouraging team members to take risks and learn from their mistakes.

Facilitate Teamwork

Teamwork is a key component because lean leadership requires employees from different departments to collaborate to improve processes. Encouraging teamwork can help streamline communication channels and ultimately improve communication. Teamwork can also contribute to developing a positive culture, which can boost employee satisfaction by motivating them while at work.

Go to Gemba (Walk the Floor)

As a lean leader, you can use Gemba, a method that encourages you to visit the workstation and engage with employees face-to-face. Instead of depending primarily on reports, executive summaries and other edited forms of information, you can go to the source to listen to employees and learn about the processes that guide the organization’s success. To create an effective environment for improvement, it can be helpful to develop faith in your team's abilities, expertise and experience.

Drive Continuous Improvement Mindset

A lean leader empowers their workers to take on the responsibility for resolving their own problems, by making it acceptable to attempt something even if it does not work out. It's essential to demonstrate that participating in improvement activities, challenging existing practices, and observing processes, are all part of a complete problem solving approach that will advance the organization.

When leaders are true role models for Lean behavior, this inspires everyone within an organization to deepen their understanding of Lean, fully engage with a transformational program, and close the gap between Lean tools and Lean thinking to fully realize the value of Lean.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Friday, April 5, 2024

Lean Quote: True Leadership is Servanthood

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"True leadership is servanthood. Put the interests of others at the center of your decisions.  —  Dave Ramsey

Servant Leaders, whose vision is to make people better in various ways, naturally exhibit many ideals in their day-to-day leadership of their people. Here are seven important elements of servant leadership:

 Strong character. A servant leader maintains integrity, makes decisions based on ethics and principles, displays humility, and seeks to serve a higher purpose in the organization.

 Puts people first. Successful servant leaders demonstrate care and concern for others and help employees meet their goals while encouraging personal growth.

 Excellent communicator. Communication skills are integral to any business leader, but especially a servant leader. Make a point of listening to and speaking with workers and inviting their feedback.

• Strong collaborator. Servant leadership means keeping an eye on the future and anticipating anything that might impact the organization. Maintain a positive vision and take decisive action when necessary.

• Has foresight. The servant leader must be a visionary, able to imagine possibilities and anticipate the future, with the courage to take action when necessary.

• Strategic thinker. Servant leaders must be comfortable navigating complex environments and be adaptable to change.

• Leader with moral authority. It is critical to establish trust and confidence in your workplace. Establish employees’ trust and confidence by adhering to quality standards, accepting and delegating responsibility, and fostering a culture that makes room for accountability.

The results of servant leadership are exponential: by leading as a servant, you multiply success and satisfaction — personal and professional, for you and your colleagues — above and beyond the limits of traditional leadership outcomes.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Lean Tips Edition #297 (#3481 - #3495)

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.

Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:

Lean Tip #3481 – Consider General Business Goals When Setting KPIs

The first step when creating a successful KPI system should be to look into your general business goals, as this will help you understand which elements should be included in your system. It is very likely that your goals will involve several areas and departments. Therefore, sitting with various stakeholders and discussing these objectives will help narrow down strategies and pick the right indicators to measure.

Lean Tip #3482 – Implement Tools to Unify Your KPIs

One of the greatest challenges when building one of these systems is getting everything together for analysis. Online dashboard tools make this possible by providing a centralized view of all your most relevant KPIs to make informed decisions considering the full picture.

The value of this KPI system is not only that it unifies all aims into one location, but its visual nature makes it easy to understand at a glance. The likelihood of reaching a target is depicted in a range of colors so that you can easily see the status of the different initiatives.

Lean Tip #3483 – Examine Industry Standards and Benchmarks

Another key means of implementing an effective KPI system is by exploring industry standards and benchmarks. Conducting data-driven research in your niche or industry will help you refine your smart KPI goals to ensure your aims or benchmarks are realistic as well as progressive.

Carrying out competitor research is a good way of understanding what standards or targets other brands within your sector are working towards when it comes to activities related to sales, marketing, fulfillment, inventory management, logistics, and more. 

Online research will also give you a clear indication of industry-wide benchmarks related to various processes. Naturally, you will base your benchmarks on your current performance—but cross-checking everything against industry standards is always good practice.

Lean Tip #3484 – Work With Visualizations That Offer Consistent Value

Another important consideration when working with KPI goals and objectives is to ensure every visualization within your system offers consistent performance-boosting value. 

With a unified view of your KPI target visualizations, you will be able to drill down deeper into each metric to ensure it represents your data in a way that offers a clear-cut objective insight into your processes and progress. If there are any charts or visuals that you find misleading or redundant (offering very little in the way of performance-boosting insight), you can omit them from the system or replace them with something more suitable. 

During this phase of the process, you should ask relevant stakeholders within the business to test each KPI and offer objective feedback on their value. Doing so will ensure that everyone in the business benefits from your newfound visual benchmarking and tracking initiatives. 

Lean Tip #3485 – Ensure Accessibility and Collaboration

Collaboration is key when it comes to dealing with relevant KPI data. Your business goals attain various departments that need to stay connected to build cohesive strategies based on the general company vision. With traditional means of communication, such as static Excel sheets or PowerPoint presentations, the topic of accessibility and collaboration becomes a hardship due to the static nature of these tools.

That said, a well-thought-out system should consider collaboration as a basis. Luckily, various online reporting software has been developed to allow users to easily share their KPIs from any device with an internet connection. The online nature of these tools ensures a collaborative environment thanks to real-time access to data. 

Lean Tip #3486 – Review Any Targets Made as a Team

Once you've set your KPI goals, review those targets with the team. Targets have a higher chance of succeeding if the entire team agrees on them and understands what the expectations are. If a target isn't realistic or attainable, then it won't be helpful when setting expectations for how people work together towards achieving those goals in the future. Listen to any feedback and discuss viable alternatives.

Lean Tip #3487 – Audit Any Progress and Adjust

Review progress and adjust targets as necessary. Set a time limit for each KPI, then review your progress at the end of that period. If you don't meet your target, adjust it to reflect reality and try again. You may find that an interim review is also helpful in this step, especially if there are multiple performance indicators involved. For example, instead of reviewing all goals annually or quarterly, consider checking progress every six months and adjusting accordingly. Make sure the new targets are realistic after adjusting the previous ones. 

Lean Tip #3488 – Establish a Time Frame

Define the time frame for achieving each KPI goal. This means ensuring they're realistic and achievable. Some targets may be quicker to achieve than others, so track each target individually and record any interim deadlines. Doing so allows you to measure and compare your progress against previous successes and keep track of results. Confirming that all parties agree on this time frame helps ensure a smoother process.

Lean Tip #3489 – Establish How Often You Collect Data

Another key consideration is how often you aim to collect your insights. The frequency of data collection is usually appropriate to the KPI and is consistent with the organization’s culture and processes. For example, if a company sets up monthly meetings with all employees to discuss their performance metrics and goals, then it's likely that this schedule will continue for subsequent months as well.

If an organization doesn't have such regular meetings in place and instead relies on its managers or supervisors to set goals for their teams, then collecting metrics on a more ad hoc basis may make more sense, such as every few weeks.

Lean Tip #3490 – Align All KPIs With the Company's Values

It's beneficial to ensure that the KPIs you set align with a company's values. If an organization has a strong culture of innovation, for example, consider creating a KPI related to consistently developing new products or services. Similarly, if the company's goals focus on reducing costs, you'd likely benefit from setting targeted KPIs around reducing expenses but only as long as these goals don't conflict with other key aspects of the business, such as serving customers.

Lean Tip #3491 – Get the Whole Team on Board

To get the greatest advantages out of Lean, the entire organization should adopt and promote its practices, and extend its influence to suppliers as well. You must involve the people who are the closest to the work and you must get support from senior management as well.

Lean Tip #3492 – Take a Lean Tour

Sometimes we learn best by first witnessing the success of others. See the benefits of lean in action. It is not difficult to find organizations that will allow you to see their lean implementations (referred to as the Gemba walk). Take detailed notes of what is highly effective in their Lean implementations, ask questions, and get as much valuable information as you can in order to help you formulate you own Lean strategy for implementation.

Lean Tip #3493 – Discard Conventional Fixed Ideas

Part of problem solving is thinking “outside of the box.” Encourage fresh perspectives and ingenuity in your team in order to develop innovative ways to forward Lean manufacturing without changing what is already efficient and successful. With such a rapidly evolving climate in manufacturing, sometimes conventional thought is what leads to the problem in the first place!

Lean Tip #3494 – Don’t Just Talk About it, Do it!

Once you have a Lean strategy in place, put it into fast and thorough action. Naturally, implementation is what ultimately yields results and improvement. The last think you want is to devise and formulate a Lean campaign that then sits on the shelf and collects dust. Run with your Lean plans as soon as you have everything nailed down.

Lean Tip #3495 – Concentrate on Bad Processes, Not People

By concentrating on the processes and building continuous improvement, you will have the culture change that you are looking for. Also, correct mistakes immediately. Don’t wait for the next shift, the weekend or maintenance to do it.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare