Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Lean Tips Edition #121 (1816-1830)

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 #1816 – When it Comes to Improvement Think Small
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 #1817 - Empower Employees
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.

Empowering employees to take steps toward improvement can be very helpful. Having a process by which they go through the PDCA cycle with as little interference from management as possible can be very helpful. Of course, for some changes manager involvement and approval will be necessary, but putting as few obstacles in the way as possible will result in much more improvement.

Lean Tip #1818 - 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 #1819 - Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes.
To be a success, your kaizen must improve things from the point of view of the customer. Many people make the mistake of improving a process from their own point of view from within their own organizational silo.  If your kaizen doesn’t improve things from the perspective of the customer then any improvement is an illusion.  In fact a good kaizen may result in the work of an individual team getting harder rather than easier.  This is fine as long as the value stream of the whole process is improved and the value flows better and in more efficient ways to the customer from a whole of business perspective.

Lean Tip #1820 - Kaizen What’s Important, Not What’s Easy
Don’t just target the low hanging fruit.  You want to make sure that your kaizen is important to the business.  Doing something important means that you will have no problem motivating people to be involved and do a good job.  We find work teams are easily tempted to do something easy so that they can be surer of a result.

If the Kaizen didn’t deliver a result that made a real difference, people will wonder what was the point.  Of course if you are lucky enough to have something that is both important and easy to work on then go for it.

Lean Tip #1821 - Focus on Collaboration & Working Together
Collaboration is one of the most important things for businesses to focus on improving, as it can help to improve ideas, cut down on wasted time and — yes — improve employee engagement. It may seem like a lofty goal if your employees tend to stick to themselves, but it doesn't have to be at all.

Lean Tip #1822 - Let Your Employees Focus on What They Do Best
Employees want to know that the work they're doing is being appreciated and meaningful ... and if they do, they will be engaged.

They also want to be given the opportunity to shine, which means they have to have the ability to do what they do best as often as possible. The biggest mistake that a manager can make is assigning tasks to those who work under them that simply don't match their skills ... which is something that can not only lead to poor performance, but will no doubt have a negative impact on employee engagement.

If you want your employees to stay as engaged as possible, you have to allow them to focus on their skills.

Lean Tip #1823 - Allow Time During the Day for Personal Enrichment & Development
The workday can be long at times, and it can be difficult for some employees to get the time they need to work on personal enrichment.

Most people want to learn something! So give them time to learn it and better themselves.

The weekend is only so long, and many people are exhausted at the end of the workday. If you want to improve engagement levels, you may want to allow time throughout the day for people explore something new.

Each day, allow your employees to take a half hour or so to work on something they're passionate about, even if it isn't work-related. It may seem as if you're losing time doing this, but in the end, you'll actually be making the environment more comfortable for you employees, which will lead to a more engaged staff.

Lean Tip #1824 – Recognize and Encourage Innovation
You might have heard some pretty inspiring ideas around the office. What about that project that came together so well and had some amazing improvements that no one initially thought of? Find out who came up with that idea. Give them a friendly “Good job!” or recognize them publicly for going the extra mile.

Lean Tip #1825 - Connect Employees to the Greater Good.
When employees feel connected to the company mission or like their work is contributing to a goal that is greater than profits, they feel like their work has purpose.  A sense of meaning is priceless and costs nothing for an employer to cultivate.

Lean Tip #1826 - Be Clear on the Metrics for Success.
Success should not be fuzzy. When your people understand the size of the prize and how their contributions matter, they are more motivated to achieve the desired results. Everyone should be visualizing the same thing, and they should be in lockstep on how to achieve it. You should regularly report on organizational progress toward the defined targets. It’s also critical to make those targets clear during the rollout of the changes and new strategy.

Lean Tip #1827 - Celebrate Early Wins.
As the change takes hold, you will have some successes you’ll want to replicate quickly (both at an organizational and individual level). To do that, capture those successes and communicate them broadly. Convert the early wins, no matter how small, into success stories people can understand. These stories let people know what you want more of in the organization and allow others to reflect on whether they could do anything similar. These stories also reinforce that small contributions really do matter.

Lean Tip #1828 - Focus on Managers During the Transformation
Managers are critical to keeping employees engaged and productive and can be instrumental in helping leaders manage change. Managers are also, unfortunately, the most overlooked group in an organization when it comes to developing the skills that make the difference between change failure and success. These include communicating, interpersonal skills, team building and coaching. If managers can’t operationalize the desired changes, then the total investment and effort will be sub-optimized. Managers must understand the strategy and then translate it in a way that is relevant for each employee.

Lean Tip #1829 - Keep a Positive Attitude.
Your attitude as a manager or supervisor will be a major factor in determining what type of climate is exhibited by your employees. Your attitude is the one thing that keeps you in control. Change can be stressful and confusing. Try to remain upbeat, positive, and enthusiastic. Foster motivation in others. During times of transition and change, try to compensate your employees for their extra effort. Last, try to instill organizational change as a personal challenge that everyone can meet…with success!

Lean Tip #1830 - Develop a Common “Change” Language and Tools

When everyone knows the process for how change is communicated and implemented in your organization, they won’t see change as so disruptive. People want to know what’s being changed, how it impacts them, what they need to do, what to expect overall, and who to turn to with questions. By using a common change language and process across the organization (such as Six Sigma), you reduce anxiety and make change more “normal.”

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