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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lean Tips Edition #95 (#1426-1440)

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 #1426 – If You Make a Mistake, Correct it Right Away.
Stuff happens. Accept it, and adjust accordingly. Corrections are necessary along the way. Acknowledge that the mistake happened, especially when it affects other people, then correct it.

Lean Tip #1427 - Do Not Make Excuses.
Start by questioning current practices. Making excuses for not doing something is easy. Again, focus on the outcome. Then, take action. There is no excuse for not trying something.

Lean Tip #1428 - Kaizen Ideas are Infinite.
Kaizen is a process of learning and growing, steadily and continually. There are always ways to "tweak" elements of your life in order to improve them. It has been said that life is a journey, not a destination.  And practicing the philosophy of continuous improvement, of kaizen, will help you to make the most of that journey!

Lean Tip #1429 - Think Small When It Comes to Improvements
Many companies today are only looking for the, “BIG WINS” when it comes to improvements. While big wins are always nice, they really aren’t going to be able to happen very often. A company that identifies small areas of improvement and implements them frequently is going to make much more progress over time than one that ignores the small things and only focuses on bigger issues.

Lean Tip #1430 - Empower Employees to Take Steps Toward Improvement
Good managers are an invaluable part of having a facility that engages in continuous improvement. This is because good managers know that it is often going to be the employees who come up with the next great improvement idea. Employees perform their jobs all day everyday so it is no surprise that they will be the ones to find problems and hopefully the solutions to them.

Lean Tip #1431 - Recognize Successes
When a change is made that results in improvement in the facility it should always be recognized. This recognition could be something as simple as a thank you from the department manager or as large as corporate recognition with a bonus or other reward. To the extent possible, all recognition of improvements made should be done as publicly as possible to help motivate others to work towards improvements.

If someone has an idea that doesn’t work out as planned, it can still be a good idea to recognize that even though it didn’t work out, it was still a good thing that they made the attempt. As the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Even when ideas are unsuccessful it is still a learning opportunity and it may trigger ideas about the next great improvement in the facility. Never punish people for making an attempt at improving the facility.

Lean Tip #1432 - Engage the Full Team to Find Improvement Opportunities
Continuous improvement in a facility is almost never going to be made by a single person. This is why you need to have the entire team involved. This starts with the CEO and leadership team and goes all the way to the front line employees. By creating a teamwork environment where everyone is working together to ensure ongoing improvement you will be much more successful in the long run.

Even when employees propose an unrealistic idea it should still be seen as a positive step. Taking all ideas seriously and trying to find ways to implement them if practical can allow employees to have the confidence in the management team that they need to want to bring new ideas up to the team.

Lean Tip #1433 - Know Your Processes
You can’t make improvements on something if you don’t really know what is going on with it. This is why you should have a clear understanding of everything that is happening in the facility. A great strategy for this is to employ value stream mapping. This will help you pinpoint where all the value for your products is added so that you can eliminate any waste that is involved.

Keeping your value stream maps updated and accurate is important. Every time a change is made to an area, for example, make sure you know how it is impacting the value add to that area. This will ensure you are always evaluating an accurate portrayal of your facility so you can make the needed improvements on an ongoing basis.

Lean Tip #1434 - Never Give Up
Whenever thinking about Kaizen continuous improvement you need to recognize that the ‘continuous’ part of the strategy is extremely important. This is a strategy that should be implemented as soon as possible and then continued indefinitely into the future. As soon as one improvement is made, it is time to start looking at what the next improvement opportunity will be.

It is also important to remember that there will be failures along the way. Some ideas will be tried and found to not produce the results that are needed. When this happens make sure you and your team don’t get discouraged or give up. Instead, start the process of finding and implementing improvements over and you’ll soon achieve the results you were hoping for.

Lean Tip #1435 - Implement Hoshin Planning
Hoshin Planning is a concept where all employees are looked at as the experts in their specific jobs that they are. Since they are seen as experts, they will be held accountable for achieving the desired successes, including continuous improvement. This is different than empowering employees because it not only gives them the ability to identify changes, but actually puts them in the decision making position.

In addition to helping ensure employees are contributing to the continuous successes desired, you are also empowering them with more trust and responsibility. It has been shown that this type of strategy can improve job satisfaction and company results.

Lean Tip #1436 - Collaborate with Employees to Set Goals
According to recent research done by Gallup, only about half of employees understand what is expected of them and even more concerning, managers aren’t even sure of what is expected of them! If employees aren’t aware of what they should be working towards, they are just existing, not developing. Managers can combat this to by including employees in the process of goal setting. They should be just as aware of their strengths and weaknesses as their managers are so they can constantly assess their work, set milestones and think about the big picture. Doing so will help them plan reasonably attainable goals with managers.

Lean Tip #1437 - Make Employee Performance Goals Attainable
Shoot for the stars isn’t really an analogy that works in performance management. Managing employee performance is all about practical, attainable and realistic goal setting. While having ambitious goals shouldn’t be a bad thing, it can negatively impact employee morale and engagement. Managers should assess each employee’s strengths and craft goals based off individual development. One thing that should be avoided is expecting each employee to meet the same goals. They are not the same person and goals should reflect that. Personalization is key.

Lean Tip #1438 - Align Employee Goals with Company Goals
As thoughtful as it might seem, managers don’t just exist to help employees reach their own professional goals. The idea is that those goals should align with the overarching goals of the organization. This is not news!
However, alignment can be difficult if managers don’t understand the strengths, weaknesses and intrinsic motivators of their people. One surefire way to familiarize managers with these elements is regular communication with team members. They should try to increase communication to at least once a week, especially during big projects and track each employee’s progress to identify strengths and areas of improvement.

Lean Tip #1439 - Recognize Goal Achievement (or Lack Thereof)
Recognizing employee performance goal achievement (or any goal achievement really) is another motivating factor to continued goal success. Employees will be engaged and motivated from the above tips, but often times, realizing the success of professional development can take time. Managers can keep employees engaged by rewarding them when they’ve met goals. Rewards can come in the form of a bonus, a pay raise, an extra day of vacation, the possibilities are nearly endless. At the very least, managers should take time to personally recognize their team’s successes, whether it’s in one-on-one meetings or in front of the entire company or department.

Lean Tip #1440 - Link Vision With Day-to-Day Reality

Goal setting is the opportunity to link employees’ every day work to the larger strategy of the organization. It has been said that a goal is a “dream with a deadline.” Leaders can take steps to communicate the organization’s vision for the future in inspirational terms as well as in setting practical goals and objectives that demonstrate a clear path to achieving that vision. Managers can then help employees plan their own part in setting individual goals that are aligned to and support the overall vision.

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