Monday, June 18, 2018

Lean Tips Edition #126 (1891-1905)

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 #1891 – Provide Ongoing Coaching and Training
Some people in your organization will proactively seek mentors and training, while others will need it to come directly from their manager. Offer an optional weekly coaching session to discuss strategies and tactics that can help each member of the department improve in their role, and make them fun!

Lean Tip #1892 – Show Employees How their Job Advances the Company’s Vision
Your company has undoubtedly recorded its vision and goals for the year. Why not show employees exactly how their jobs advance the vision? This will boost each employee’s investment in the success of the company instead of just feeling like a cog in the wheel.

Lean Tip #1893 – Have Problem-Solving Meetings
Everyone takes a different approach to problem-solving. Schedule meetings where you reveal a big problem facing the company with complete transparency. Let employees take a crack at explaining how they would solve it. Employees will feel more engaged in company outcomes and they might just solve a few problems while they’re at it.

Lean Tip #1894 – Get Employees Involved in Long-Term Projects
Organize employees from different departments into teams to tackle long-term projects that involve responsibilities outside of their typical scope of work. Not only will they get to know people they don’t work with on a day-to-day basis, they’ll pick up skills from one another as they work on important projects.

Lean Tip #1895 – Praise Your Coworkers
It shouldn’t only be left to managers to praise good work. When you hear about someone’s achievement, go over and personally congratulate them. It’ll mean a lot to that person and they’ll likely do the same for you when your big wins come through.

Lean Tip #1896 – Understand The Fundamental Issue
The first major step of any root-cause analysis is to identify exactly what problem or issue your agency is facing. If you don’t pinpoint the fundamental problem, you aren’t able to complete a root-cause analysis. You must understand the issue, and you must have a consensus on exactly how it manifests before you’re able to move forward in your analysis.

Lean Tip #1897 – Ask Questions, Keep Digging Till Root Cause.
The five whys technique is helpful in digging for answers. Start with the problem and work backwards to sequence all of the contributing events. Ask why the issue happened. Take that answer and ask why again, drilling down until you reach a cause that can’t be broken down any further. Explore all potential causes initially, and narrow down the list to the most likely culprits. You’ll end up with a cause-and-effect diagram that will lead you to the source of the problem. When you believe you’ve reached the root cause and not another contributing factor, check your work by asking:

a) Would the event have occurred if this cause was not present?

b) Will the problem happen again if this cause is corrected or eliminated?

If the answer is no to both questions, there is a good chance you have uncovered the underlying cause. If not, keep digging. Note that there may be multiple root causes, each of which must be addressed to prevent similar issues in the future.

Lean Tip #1898 – Breakdown the Problem into Smaller Pieces.
Completing a task or solving a problem can seem overwhelming and impossible if you take it all in at once. To decrease anxiety and think more clearly try to break the problem down. Try to identify the different things and people it consists of. Then figure out one practical solution you can take for each of those pieces. Try those solutions. They may not solve the whole problem immediately. But they might solve a few pieces of it. And then you can keep trying other solutions for the rest of the pieces until there are none left.

Lean Tip #1899 – Enlist Open-minded People When Problem Solving.
When tackling a big problem many people just grab anyone available with two hands and a brain. Unfortunately, closed-minded team members can not only delay the solution, they may instigate a bigger problem than the one you are trying to solve. Great problem solvers know the best results come from groups of open-minded people. Your problem-solving team must be willing to get outside of the box and uncomfortable. Ultimately this approach will surface creative new solutions and processes.

Lean Tip #1900 – Find the Lesson or Opportunity Within the Problem.
There is almost always a good side of a problem. Perhaps it alerts us to a great way to improve our business. Or teaches us how our lives perhaps aren’t as bad as we thought. Finding this more positive part of the problem reduces its negative emotional impact and you may even start to see the situation as a great opportunity for you. When you are faced with a problem ask yourself: How can I use this? What is the good thing about this? What can I learn from this? What hidden opportunity can I find within this problem?

Lean Tip #1901 - Be Clear about Tasks So Everyone’s Knows Their Responsibility
No one can effectively complete an assignment if they are unsure what tasks they are responsible for. Make sure that the entire team knows the scope of the project and that each team member is clear about exactly what is expected of them. Getting the team together regularly to check progress, ask questions, and address any issues is another good way to keep everyone on track and assure that all team members are aware of their responsibilities in the project.

Lean Tip #1902 - Be Open and Honest With Your Team Members
Possibly the single most effective way to improve interpersonal communication in the workplace is to instill a sense of trust among your team members. Transparency is key here; if team members feel like secrets are being kept from them, any trust you have built goes right out the window. Of course, sensitive information should be handled as such, but team members have a right to know when they are not privy to such information. Be open and honest with your team members, and reassure them that they can do the same with you. Mutual trust is important in any relationship, including a professional one.

Lean Tip #1903 - Take Ownership For Mistakes
The best managers are the managers that can relate to their employees. That includes owning up to the decisions (and errors) that you make and admitting when you could have done something differently. Everyone makes mistakes, so by confessing your flaws, you are showing your employees that you are just as human as they are.

Lean Tip #1904 - Have An Open-Door Policy. It Builds Trust.
An open-door policy in place sets the precedent that anyone can ask questions, voice concerns, and pitch ideas at any time. This is an important part of building trust within your team. Making management inaccessible sends the message to lower-level employees that they are not as valuable. Keeping the doors of communication open is crucial.

While you’re opening figurative doors, open literal ones as well. Removing physical obstacles between employees creates a sense of mutual trust and encourages the open exchange of ideas. Problems can be presented and resolved as they arise instead of waiting for the weekly company meeting.

Lean Tip #1905 - Build a Desire for Cohesion

It’s often easier for managers to make quick decisions based on their experiences. But being collaborative means setting the quick trigger aside from time to time and involving all team members in some of the bigger, impactful decisions during your huddles and team meetings. This keeps everyone on the same page and allows them to refocus their time and energy where needed.

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