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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lean Tips Edition #112 (1681-1695)

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 #1681 - Encourage Employees to Recognize One Another
Of course, a manager’s appreciation is important. But workplace recognition can come from colleagues too. Consider creating “thank-you” slips for your staff members to write notes of gratitude to coworkers. Expressing thanks, even for small helpful acts, can go a long way toward building a cohesive team.

Lean Tip #1682 - Maintain an Open-Door Policy
Happy workplaces are environments where employees feel comfortable voicing their ideas and concerns. Set the right tone by letting your employees know that you welcome their thoughts for improving business operations and workplace culture. Also, provide and ask for regular feedback. Don’t limit yourself to one format: You could offer an idea board, suggestion box or monthly brown bag Q&A with company leadership.

Lean Tip #1683 - Recognize Outstanding Work
Want to boost employee morale? Place an article in the company newsletter or a note on a bulletin board in the office in recognition of a special achievement. Praise employees for their good work in front of their peers. You don’t have to spend a dime to reward hardworking employees for their actions and achievements. Your gesture lets employees know their unique contributions and positive attitudes make a difference for your company and the team.

Lean Tip #1684 - Offer Professional Development Opportunities
Training programs are an employee retention strategy that pays off big time. Your employees benefit by expanding their skills. You benefit by getting a more productive and versatile workforce. Everyone wins when you grow together.

Lean Tip #1685 - Promote From Within
Your employees will feel discouraged if they sense they’ll be sitting in their current cubicle forever. If you want employees to invest in the business, then invest in them, too. Many managers fail to consider that the talent they seek could very well be right under their nose. Wise leaders consider “internal employees” — professionals who are among your current workforce — first when a position is created or vacated.

Lean Tip #1686 - Keep Information Flowing
Employees might worry when they don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, creating an environment in which speculation can take root and rumors thrive. If you don’t give people information, they’re going to start making guesses. This doesn’t mean employees have to know everything you know, but keeping the team informed about issues that may affect them creates a sense of transparency. It lifts the fog.

Lean Tip #1687 - If You See Something You Like, Say It
This doesn’t have to be constant, but if you see an employee going above and beyond, thank them. Say how much you appreciate their work and how it’s not going unnoticed. You may think this is unnecessary and it “goes without saying” because they know what they’re doing is good, but trust us, a little positive re-enforcement is always a good thing. Not to mention, this may cause some friendly competition within the workplace -- which I have experienced firsthand to help drive innovation and collaboration.

Lean Tip #1688 - Give More Responsibility To Encourage Employee Empowerment
If you want to empower your employees, hand them a little more responsibility. Let them make important decisions in regard to the company. It’ll build your team members' confidence when you recognize and trust their expertise.

Lean Tip #1689 - Give Employees a Voice
Feeling like they are part of the process, that their thoughts and ideas matter, and that they have a voice in their work performance gives employees a sense that they have an impact on their company. Plus, they’re on the front lines and know best about how work should be performed. Actively soliciting employee feedback and incorporating employee thoughts and ideas into how the organization operates is a very effective way to engage employees.

Lean Tip #1690 - Remember that Culture Happens from the Top Down
You cannot delegate culture-building and then forget about it. Culture always starts and ends with the leaders of an organization. If you have a toxic team culture, you should look in the mirror. As the leader, always stay involved in the staff culture. Be the biggest champion of your core values. Attend every event. If you don’t set the tone for the culture you want or participate in all the team events, how can you expect great culture from your staff?

Lean Tip #1691 - Actively Manage Risks and Learn Early
Implementing project risk management and early learning principles will help your team identify roadblocks and issues before they occur and either eliminate them, or manage them effectively. There has been a lot written on early learning (iterative development, Agile, fast feedback, modular design). But no matter what approach you choose, the purpose is the same - learn early and the impact can be either entirely avoided or managed. Learn later, and it will cost the project time and the organization money.

Lean Tip #1692 - By Failing to Plan, You are Planning to Fail
Good planning mitigates risks and promotes learning early. While planning, teams consider, talk through, and eliminate ‘flow’ blockages before they occur. The ROI on planning is huge. A good plan has enough detail for it to be predictive of how much work is really going to be involved, and therefore when you will be done. Records of past plans can also help, as an input into how much work will really be involved in the various tasks, and how much unpredicted work there typically is in a project.

Lean Tip #1693 - Figure Out How the Work Gets Done.
We have lots of assumptions about how work gets done that don’t mirror exactly what happens. After all, during the day-to-day grind, we don’t think about how we do the work, we often just do it. Ask an outside observer to record the steps of the process in a way that he/she could repeat it themselves if they had to, without assistance.

Lean Tip #1694 - Remove Inefficiencies and Waste.
Once you know what the workflow of your process looks like, take a second look at any step in the process that doesn’t directly create value for the customer. Manage, improve, and smooth your process flow to eliminate non-valued-added activity (e.g., wasted time, wasted movement, wasted inventory due to overproduction, customer delays, waiting for approvals, delays due to batching of work, unnecessary steps, duplication of effort, and errors and rework).

Lean Tip #1695 - Have a Strong Lean Improvement Strategy

You'll need a solid plan and some attainable targets before implementing Lean. Utilize checklists and to-do lists, and you’ll always be working towards a goal. Look at every step in your process from the customer’s perspective: Is all that you’re doing something that he or she would be willing to pay for? If not, it is time to get back to the drawing board.

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