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Monday, January 20, 2014

Daily Lean Tips Edition #58 (856-870)

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 #856 - Don’t Automatically Blame the Tool
It’s not the hammer’s fault if the person swinging it uses the wrong end. It just won’t work well. Most tools are decent enough, they’re just used incorrectly. Rushing to change a tool because things aren’t working well may be a mistake.

Lean Tip #857 - Make Time to Think Together
Create regularly scheduled time to share observations and ideas without a structured agenda. It could be a semi-annual half-day to reflect on your successes or it could be more frequent and less formal. Start each day with a “daily huddle” to keep the lines of communications open.

Lean Tip #858 - Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks
Encourage an entrepreneurial climate, where risk taking is celebrated. If people know that attempts to innovate are accepted, rather than punished, there’s an increased likelihood of seeing creative problem solving.

Lean Tip #859 - Challenge Your Assumptions
When we don’t know the full story, we tend to fill in the blanks with assumptions, many of which have little grounding in reality. Instead of assuming, take the time to learn the real story. For example, if a team member doesn’t answer your question right away, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’s being difficult or passive aggressive. She might just need a little time to think.

Lean Tip #860 - Learn From When Things Work
It’s important to identify challenges, but why stop there? Invite your team members to share stories of how they overcame challenges in the past. Then encourage them to apply those lessons to their current challenges. Connecting to past successes inspires people and leaves them more willing to use discretionary effort. This is where real performance gains happen.

Lean Tip #861 – Engage Employees By Noticing What Gets Done
It is easy, and at times inevitable, for managers to keep their focus on what's not finished and what's broken. But if you want people to care about their work, it's critical to notice and to call attention to what's going well. At every opportunity, and at least once a day, comment on a job well done or a crisis averted. We can't expect people to aim for high goals if we don't give them credit for the small ones.

Lean Tip #862 – Engage Employees By Soliciting Ideas for Improvement
If you do one-on-one meetings with your team, or in informal "stop-by" talks, ask your employees individually for their thoughts on the department's operations. Ask "What should we be focusing on? What could run better in our group?" If the solutions offered seem impractical, don't shoot them down—talk through the obstacles so your colleagues will understand the challenges of implementing what they've suggested. Above all, don't send the message that you're the only one who is qualified to make improvements. We don't keep smart people unless we make them part of our brain trust.

Lean Tip #863 – Engage Employees By Being Transparent
Show employees that you are committed to seeing change by being transparent. It’s one thing to say that you will be transparent but employees can see what you do. Back up your claims with actions like having regular communications about changes in processes important to employees.

Lean Tip #864 – Engage Employees By Removing Systemic Barriers
In a business of largely manufacturing environments, I’ve found key themes that can get in the way of engagement across an entire site or segment no matter how good the frontline supervisor might be at it. Themes such as communication and trust, pay and benefits, office vs. plant culture, and (lack of) change management must be identified by actively listening to your frontline associates and addressed by the senior leadership in addition to direct manager-associate conversations.

Lean Tip #865 – Engage Employees By Celebrating Successes
It’s comes as no surprise that celebrating the good stuff that happens will in-turn also encourage more ideas thus spinning the cycle of innovation and engagement round and round. Not only does celebrating success mean another surge of re-engagement, it also shows employees that you appreciate the work that they’re doing and that you’re taking the time and effort to make things even better for them.

Lean Tip #866 - Focus on the Future
People need to feel confident in their future. They need to trust that their leaders will guide them to their collective goal. Make sure all team members know what the long-term vision is for the company, and how they fit in to the strategic plan. Don’t worry about sounding like a broken record, reminding people of the future vision is at the core of what great leaders do.

Lean Tip #867 - Ask for Ideas and Opinions to Show Appreciation
A great way to make people feel appreciated, is to ask them for their opinion and ideas. You don’t have to accept or implement every idea, but it’s important for people to know that their ideas count. This can be as simple as going around the table at each meeting and asking, “Do you have anything you’d like to add?” or “What do you think about this approach?”

Lean Tip #868 – Design and Hold Informal Learning Opportunities
People are engaged less by formal training courses and more by experiences that enable them to grow. Setup a mentorship program or a formalized job rotation schedule to enable people to gain exposure, experiences and relationships outside their department.

Lean Tip #869 - Leverage “Lunch and Learns”
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to foster ongoing growth is to implement a weekly or monthly lunch-and-learn program. You simply recruit volunteers to lead a one-hour program and buy some pizzas or sandwiches for the conference room. Perhaps someone can share the key findings from a conference they recently attended.

Lean Tip #870 - Get to Know the Reasons Employees Disengage

The most common reasons include: job or workplace did not meet employee’s expectations; mismatch between job and employee; not enough coaching and feedback; too few growth or advancement opportunities; not feeling valued, appreciated, or recognized for contributions; stress, workload, and work-life imbalance; loss of trust and confidence in leaders; perceived unfairness or favoritism; and perceived lack of support by leaders, managers or supervisors on a personal and professional level. Conducting periodic audits or evaluations of how employees perceive these aspects of the organization can be helpful in getting a pulse of how engaged your workforce is.

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