Monday, November 19, 2018

Lean Tips #132 (1976-1990)

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 #1976 - Invest in Your Team's Training and Development.
To keep talent motivated they need to feel as if you're investing in their growth. Millennials, in particular, value having the tools to make better decisions. They want to know they're not just executing on your behalf, but that leadership prioritizes their personal and professional growth.

Lean Tip #1977 - Hone Your Listening Skills.
Leaders typically know how to talk, but aren't as good at sitting back and listening. Yet, allowing people to be heard not only helps with relationship building, it allows leaders to learn from the capable people in their circles.

Lean Tip #1978 – Give Your Team the Right Support
Change usually implies that the team has to learn new skills to understand and interpret new ways of working. The team leader must give opportunity for the team and individual to develop and try new approaches. Make sure your team has appropriate training, development resources, and time to confirm their new skills.

Lean Tip #1979 - Show Your Team Appreciation
You must invest time and energy in your team. Everybody needs to be appreciated and your team is no different! They need to know that you have a personal interest and commitment in them. Recognizing their worth shows that they are valued and the work they do really does matter.

Lean Tip #1980 – Empower Your Team
Employee participation places emphasis on communication, openness and the direct involvement of team members in decision-making. Provide support and facilitate discussion to help the team solve problems. As confidence, commitment and competence increases delegate tasks and let team members take decisions or find solutions to problems.

Lean Tip #1981 – Invest Time in Your People.
The people who show up to work for you every day bring value to your organization. But that doesn’t mean they’ll blindly follow you. Spend some time investing in your team. That could be as simple as monthly team-building events. It could be handwritten notes on Friday mornings. Whatever you choose, don’t just go through the motions. Be curious about your team members. Ask about their backgrounds, their families, their dreams. Implement development programs so your team can continue to learn and grow. If you invest in them, they’ll invest in you.

Lean Tip #1982 – Become a Better Listener.
Many people don’t know how to truly listen. The good news? Following the lessons we learned in grade school—pay attention, don’t interrupt, don’t be distracted—is all that we need to do to become better listeners.

Of course, listening doesn’t just mean paying attention to the words that your team members are saying. It means understanding the emotions behind those words, as well as the nonverbal cues, including body language, tone of voice, and mannerisms, that speak to your team members’ state of mind. If communication is 80 percent nonverbal, as is popularly claimed, then focusing only on the words being spoken means you’re only getting 20 percent of the message.

Lean Tip #1983 – See Things From Employee’s Point of View.
Sometimes it can be really difficult to get a clear read on the emotional state of your team. One way that you can gain this insight is to put yourself in the shoes of your team members. Ask yourself: How would you feel in a similar situation? What would you do? What would you want or expect from your manager? What would you not want? Use these insights to inform your management techniques, build rapport, and foster the level of communication that you need in order to be effective at your job.

Lean Tip #1984 – Leave Judgment Behind.
Even when the feelings of others are in direct opposition to their own, empathetic leaders don’t judge. They let go of their biases and allow themselves to be open to new perspectives. When you’re an empathetic leader, you don’t look at the feelings of others in terms of agreement or disagreement but as a window into their perceptions and world view, an opportunity to better understand what they’re experiencing and expressing.

Lean Tip #1985 – Encourage Creativity
If you want your staff to do their best work, you need to give them the freedom to brainstorm and explore. Be open to your team's ideas and suggestions, and be ready to consider them and possibly develop them further.

A good leader also gives the team new challenges, preventing them from becoming bored and complacent while showing confidence in their potential.

Lean Tip #1986 – Cultivate a Culture of Innovation.
Great business leaders drive their teams to step out of the confines of routine and achieve the extraordinary. Building teamwork and rewarding collaboration are key to achieving your goals.

Cultivating a culture that values innovation is one of the most difficult responsibilities a business leader has. Here's how the best nurture innovation in their companies:

·        Proactively introduce mechanisms that naturally boost creative and innovative thinking.
·        Make incremental improvements in the workplace to facilitate out-of-the-box thinking.
·        Use tools to measure how employees spend their time.
·        Encourage practical shuffling of duties and departments to help employees gain a wider perspective of the organization's work.
·        Show employees how they can use time-tested methods of creative idea generation (brainstorming, mind mapping, story boarding, etc.) by organizing and participating in sessions.

Lean Tip #1987 – Strive for Perfection But Also Understand That No One is Perfect.
As a business leader, you should always strive for perfection in your work. At the same time, it is essential to understand that no one is perfect.

A leader should not scare away employees; instead, an employee should feel secure in the presence of the leader. Here are some ways you can lead effectively while working toward perfection:

·        Identify the potential of each employee and delegate tasks to them based on their work persona.
·        Do not scold employees when they do something wrong. Help and guide them when they need you the most.
·        Continuously groom the skills of your employees and motivate them so they feel greatness is achievable.
·        Cultivate a culture of working smartly so employees achieve more in less time.
·        Don't let your quest for perfectionism turn into an obsession.

Lean Tip #1988 – A Little Humility Goes a Long Way.
There’s a difference between a leader and a boss. While both are in charge, a leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it, and your clients will, too.

Lean Tip #1989 – Win Trust of Your Team.
Your team will become engaged and loyal if they feel they are surrounded by people they can trust. The first and most important aspect of building trust is to get involved in coworkers or employees’ everyday work problems. Pay close attention to those who are behind everyone else, and devote some time to explaining their task to them. The second step is to get to know their lives outside the office. But, don’t overdo it—no one likes intrusive bosses.

Lean Tip #1990 – Make Time for What’s Important

A leader has so many responsibilities and a lot of pressure to handle. Sometimes these pressures can become too much to handle, and this is when it is time to step back and get away from everything. Spend time with your family and friends so that you can refresh your mind. Get work off your mind for a couple of days so that you can completely rejuvenate and come back to your business with the energy needed to lead your team towards success.

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Friday, November 16, 2018

Lean Quote: Progress is Impossible Without Change

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.

"The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order." — Alfred North Whitehead

Change management is a business term relating to initiating change within an organization. This could include anything from a change in work culture to increasing employee engagement and morale. The problem, however, with the term change management, is that no one really desires to change. Instead, we desire to plan to progress and we want leaders to lead us.

George Bernard Shaw wrote“ Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” To change means wading into the unknown. That scares some people. But progress demands you let down your need for control and do something new.

Change doesn’t come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek and now would be a pretty good moment to shift gear.

Winston Churchill said ‘To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” and it seems to be the case that nothing is permanent except change so our relationship to it defines us.

Change is inevitable. Adaptation to change is a necessary and critical component to survival. But mostly, change is a constant in business. And business seems to be where the adaptation to change -- or lack thereof -- seems to have some of the most significant impact.

Committed leaders, should not be apologizing for the change, but instead, they should focus on inspiring the progress of their organization. People tend to naturally resist change. 

Reduce resistance by making the change known, easy, beneficial, and popular. If leaders include others in the process, they can shape and sustain the thoughts that in turn lead to desired results.

Companies are most successful when the goals of the company connect personally with the employees. If the goals don’t connect on a personal level with the individual, then the planned progress will be viewed as merely a change and will be resisted or at least not acted on.

Change cannot happen to people. It needs to happen with people. Change must be co-created. Everyone should have some say in how the change is implemented. It is their job and their life. Let them have an element of control. If you keep lines of communication open for suggestions, you will hear lots of good ideas from the people who need to make the change happen. Use those ideas because it will build more engagement in the process. Create the change together.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Guest Post: 5 Worst Enemies of Teamwork in Business

Businesses that rank as successful in the marketplace do not happen accidentally. It is usually the continued and sustained observance of certain norms and practices that makes business models prosper. Amongst these is the teamwork factor! The teamwork observable between the boss (the leadership) on the one hand and the employees on the other is highly paramount to attaining market dominance.
Employees and their boss often make it a point of duty they keep to specific rules that make the teamwork a reality. Here, friendliness, effective communication, respect, mutual understanding and unity are very important attributes of an effective teamwork. Teamwork for a business model brings many benefits in progress, market dominance, monetary increase and social impacts for the entire business.
However, the business owner should also watch for intruding enemies of teamwork. There are enemies of teamwork in business practices. These teamwork enemies are discussed below.
1.  Poor communication - Defective communication in the workplace is a big-time reality. For a business to enjoy an optimal progress, make more sales and boost its production level there has got to be good communication amongst team members. Without this, the business might be heading for a close-down. Poor communication is highly detrimental to business growth.
Many times, poor communication can be linked to work-social immaturity, family issues, health concerns, unmet targets, relational frictions on a worker’s part. A member of a team should be ready to communicate issues of frustration with his colleagues or the boss in a healthy, mannerly way. If he does not, the others would just trivialize his symptoms of dissatisfaction.
Bethany Plaza, CEO of Conscientia Corporation relates the story between some of his workers where information sharing was greatly needed to make the work fare better. Alas, one of them was insecure with info-sharing. And this by no little means jeopardized the speed of productivity enjoyed by the company before then. After trying all she could to remove that barrier she had to conclude that letting one of these team workers go serves the enterprise well. This simply tells you that poor communication should not be tolerated, once it is discovered.
2.  Low or no self-confidence – Business relationships that bring about teamwork actually thrive with the level of morale enjoyed by the employees. When there is no morale for work, teamwork cannot be realistically maximized. For example, in remedying specific problems employees come up with varying ideas. It however turns out that worked out ideas of some workers were always being turned down repeatedly, thereby leading to a feeling of rejection. This could lead to a downward slope of self-confidence which may eventually negatively affect the social flow that makes for effective teamwork.
Trust issues are also underpinning areas that counteract teamwork processes. When the members of staff are beginning to feel as though they cannot be trusted either for certain levels of job performances or staked integrity the end return is that their morale becomes dismal. This can cause the enterprise a huge loss.
3.     Unresolved conflicts – On many occasions, businesses do not function the way it is planned, simply because there are unresolved conflicts. Conflicts happen when there is failure to harmonize the differences replete in the workplace. Conflicts happen when there is a marked show of the absence of social and economic justice. Conflicts happen when the leadership turns lukewarm and inconsiderate to the pressing needs of the staff.
This conflict is now further worsened if the boss does not resolve them in time. It may impede the progress of a business. A trapped as against a smooth flow of work is what occurs in the process.  Conflicts oftentimes are inevitable but the readiness of the aggrieved parties to come to a resolution is what is most important.
This development seemed to inform bartender-turned-HR consultant, Laura Macleod’s choice of switching careers from behind ‘serving tables’ to helping companies resolve ensuing conflicts among their employees. This, she detailed, gravely affected the productivity of the employees all the same. Here, the leadership of the team should not just ignore the arising conflicts thinking it would wane away with time. The boss should endeavor to set up some panel that would attend to the controversies and mediate amongst the discontented workers.
4.    Failure to listen to one another – The ability to listen to another makes an individual great and endearing. This cannot be overemphasized in the normal workplace. The attitude of the boss to shove his own ideas down the throat of the workers may on the long run, be very detrimental to the overall success of the company. He should be ready and willing to consider other subordinates’ thought processes relating to company assignments.
And this is greatly achieved through the ability to listen. Therefore, failure to listen can wreck the spirit of a team if not properly dealt with. This is why some companies attempt to take their employees courses on listening skills in order to strengthen the efficiency of customer-company relations and also foster goodwill amongst the members of the operating teams in the organization. 
Examples of enterprises that have recorded tremendous success as a result of listening trait of team members include EssayOnTime, where there’s a smooth flow of ideas among researchers, writers and proofreaders. This is responsible for speedy and convenient execution of multiple projects within shortest possible time. 
5.  Absence of emotional management therapy – Sometimes, provocative speech from clients or terminated contracts could cause imbalance for individuals or a team. The situation could even aggravate especially when there’s lack of emotional management therapy. If such incidence occurs and it’s not addressed duly, it could cause a gradual breakdown in the work system of the firm.
Moreover, top-gear stress levels equally bring about a situation whereby reactive outbursts begin to creep in. Many times, if the leadership of a firm fails to realize the need to manage emotions of the employees, it influences the team badly. This unsightly tendency can be minimized altogether or eliminated if the business deems it fit to organize sessions where it can attend to emotional disorders among its employees.
Every visionary organization is prone to leverage on the benefits of teamwork. But they should constantly keep off the enemies of effective teamwork in operation as highlighted in this article. By doing just that, they would achieve the much-sought business growth and of course, profit.  

About The Author: 
Jacob Dillon is a professional writer and distinctive journalist from Sydney. Being passionate about what he does, Jacob likes to discuss stirring events as well as express his opinion about technological advancements and evolution of society. Find Jacob on Twitter and Facebook.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Great Leaders Have Empathy and Perspective

Trust and cooperation are not standard in our organizations and yet we know they should be. There are two attributes that every single leader has the opportunity to possess that will help them create the types of organizations we would be proud to call our own. Those two attributes are empathy and perspective.

I came across this YouTube video about leadership in business from Simon Sinek where he talks about leadership, empathy, and perspective.

Here are few keynote insights:

On Leadership    

“Leaders are so concerned about their status and position in an organization that they actually forget their real job. And the real job of a leader is not about being in-charge, it is about taking care those in their charge.”

When you are in your junior, your only responsibility is to be good at your job. Companies even give us tons of trainings on how to do our jobs, and then they expect us to be good at our jobs. And if you are good, the company will promote you. At some point you will get promoted in a position where you are now responsible for the people who do the job you used to do, but nobody really showed you how to do that. And that is why we get managers and not leaders. Because the reason our managers are micro-managing us is because they actually do not know how to do the job better than us.

One of the great things that is lacking in most companies is that they are not teaching their employees how to ‘lead.’ Leadership is a skill like any other. It is a learnable skill. And if companies practice real leadership, their employees will become great leaders, Sinek said.

But the reason why some do not want to a leader is because it comes with great personal sacrifice. Remember, you are not in-charge, you are responsible for those who are in your charge. That means when everything goes right, you have to give out all the credit. And when everything goes wrong, you have to take all the responsibility. It is like when something breaks and goes wrong, instead of yelling at your employee(s) and taking over, you say try again.

At the end of the day, great leaders are not responsible for the job – they are responsible for the people who are responsible for the job.

On Empathy

Companies need to fill their organization with the right people, BUT what if it is not just about finding the right people? What if the problem is the company’s environment?

Sinek plotted that companies should have an environment where employees can be at their natural best. Because companies are so quick to fire their struggling employees without knowing what they are going through.

“Why is it that if somebody has performance problems at work, why is it that the company’s instinct is to say… you’re out?”

“We do not practice empathy.”

Here is an example of a lack of empathy:

You walk into someone’s office, someone walks into your office and say: ‘Your numbers are down for the third quarter in a row, you have to pick up your numbers otherwise I cannot guarantee what the future would look like.’

How inspired do you think that person is to come to work the next day?

Now, here’s what empathy looks like:

You walk into someone’s office, someone walks into your office and say: ‘Your numbers are down for the third quarter in a row. Are you okay? I am worried about you. What’s going on?’

The point here is, we all have performance issues. Maybe someone’s kid is sick, maybe someone’s parent is dying — we do not know what is going on with their lives. And of course, it will affect their performance at work.

“Empathy is being concerned about the human being, not just their output.”

Great leaders should practice empathy towards their people (employees), Sinek suggested.

This simply means that leaders should create a good learning environment in which someone feels safe enough to raise their hand and say ‘I need help.’ It’s about helping people to be at their natural best.

On Perspective

It’s not about winning or losing.

In this point, Sinek explained that the game of business has no winners or losers. Mainly because companies do not know the game they’re in, and they do not have any set of rules.

There’s no winning in the game of business because there are no rules. So, how can a company declare that its number one when no one has agreed to the rules? It’s simply arbitrary. There is no winning because there’s no rule and there’s no end, Sinek pointed.

In other words, beating your ‘competition’ doesn’t make sense because you don’t have any, but yourself.

Moreover, great companies do not play to win or to be number one, but to outlast the game of business. They understand that sometimes you are ahead and sometimes you are a little bit behind. Those great companies understand that it is not about the battle, it’s about the war.

So, if you want to be a good leader, start with empathy and change your perspective, and play the game you are actually playing, Sinek ended.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Lean Quote: Working Together is 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.

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is process; working together is success" — Henry Ford

As an organizational change agent. I have assisted in the creation and development of teams at different levels in the organization. As a Lean Champion I have trained many teams. I have also been asked to help teams that were in trouble.  My passion has always been to work with teams – as a leader, coach, neutral facilitator, and contributing team member. I’d like to share a few simple but powerful personal lesson that I have learned over time:

Change is constant. Constant change makes progress possible.

The needs of the team are the needs of the organization.

Researching first prevents redoing later.

You need to be “alive” for lifelong learning.

Hear it, learn it, do it.

Improvement tools help every kind of team.

Creativity means moving out of the box.

Committee assessments kill innovative ideas.

Tools do not solve problems, people do.

Team recognition and rewards is part of the process.

Building effective teams is an important ingredient in developing a continuous improvement process for your company. Generating creativity and innovation by linking together employees from various functional departments – creating cross-functional teams – will assure you even higher degree of success. And sustaining these teams with policies that reward them to keep your teams dynamic, fresh, and effective.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Why Teams Fail?

In my experience there is not one single cause for why teams fail. Generally, teams fail for one simple reason – they do not start as teams. They start as someone’s idea to form a team, but they never build the commitment, skills, and consensus that is necessary for teams to be victorious. There is no single purpose for the team, no commitment that they must succeed. 

Secondly, and equally important, teams fail because whoever forms the teams puts them together to do whatever they are commissioned to do without ever giving them the necessary training and tools they need up front. It would be like a group of athletes being assembled and told their goal is to win a football game. No training, no understanding of why, or what a football game is, and no agreement on what each one will do to contribute to winning the game. If they win, it probably has more to do with individuals and less with team, and a good deal of luck plays a part in it.

Managers and team leaders are often uncertain of their role and the proper approach to be taken in managing teams. These are common mistakes I see:

Trying to build a team as a traditional supervisor would do it.

Not developing commitment to the team’s mission.

Dealing with team members solely as individuals.

Not developing and living by the team norms.

Pushing the team to make decisions too quickly.

Not supporting the team.

Trying to prevent the team from surfacing and resolving conflict.

Lack of clearly stated mission, goals, and team objectives.

Absence of a challenging but fair set of measures directly linked to the team’s goals and objectives.

Management must nurture reams through their life cycles. Ensure that your teams have a charter with a clear statement of the opportunity; a methodical process to follow; a measurement system for achievement; resources, constraints, and conditions that will allow for recognition and reward; and a planned disbandment when the team reaches and exceeds its goals.

Behind every successful cross-functional team is an ongoing training effort. It is absolutely necessary for teams to learn and practice the tools in order to have the skills needed to generate ideas and problem-solve, and also deal with conflict and other team dynamics that involve interpersonal and interfunctional relationships.

I strongly believe that every team should be rewarded regardless of the final bottom line result. Recognition and reward systems must be designed to be compatible with the culture and personality of the organization. It is also important to have teams involved in the design of said process from the beginning. The key concern (obviously) is that there must be sufficient reason for the recognition and reward, otherwise the reward system will lose its significance. Recognition and rewards must be part of an overall business plan with budget allocations assigned and honored. The process must move swiftly through the organization since a recognition and reward loses merit if not given immediately.

One way to value and reward your teams is to help them learn continuously. For teams to succeed, organizations need to be learning organizations in which teams and individuals can continuously improve and/or develop new skills. As individuals learn more companies should reward them more. The way you are rewarding teams for performance and learning.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Is Your Organization Ready For Teamwork

The establishment of cross-functional teams requires a lot of thought and open communication. The probability of success depends on the readiness of your organization to implement major change and capability to establish teams.  Teams offer a competitive advantage to organizations:

Teams require less overhead than traditional organizations and give better service…

Teams give and advantage where quality is a major issue, where service is a major issue, and where cost is a major issue – and I don’t know any business where those there aren’t a major issue.

Further, teams offer a way for employees to enrich their work. They no longer have to “park their brains at the door” when arriving at work. These kinds of organizations allow people to make decisions and to function in a way that builds their self-esteem rather than in a way that erodes it.

To help organizations get started, try the following teamwork test:

Do employees depend on each other extensively within or across functions or departments?

How and where might better coordination (teamwork) enhance your productivity, quality, or customer service?

How and where would work teams benefit your organization and employees?

How would employee teams fit your organization’s long-term goals and strategies?

How will a team-based organization affect your resources?

What influence would employees teams have on job satisfaction and employee commitment?

The new team culture requires that employees contribute, initiate action, ask questions, solve problems, and share responsibility for the success of the team, department, and organization. It requires that they own their own behavior and become team players rather than individual experts operating in a vacuum. It means improving their coordination, communications, and decision-making within the context of a department team or multiple teams. The bottom line is that they become more accountable for what and how they do things and for sharing the responsibility for the culture change… the change in culture requires a journey for all organizational members.

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