Monday, November 18, 2019

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving: 3 Ideas to Appreciate Your Employees

Ah, November. The leaves are falling, the weather is chilly, and the smell of pumpkin spice permeates the air. While you’re probably making plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, there’s one group of people you may be forgetting—your employees.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to express your gratitude to those around you. Making your employees feel appreciated now only promotes mutual feelings of goodwill, but it can make them feel more loyal and dedicated to their work.

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be difficult. These appreciation ideas for employees will help you get in the spirit and show how much you appreciate the people you work with.

1. Take the time to talk to, and get to know, your employees. The most significant way to thank your employees is to get to know them. Take them to lunch or schedule time to ask about their values, hobbies, and interests. Understand your employees. Use what you now know about them to build a customized skills-improvement performance plan. Spend time with, and become interested in, each of your employees.

2. Ask employees what they think. The best way to feel appreciated is to be included – to feel that your perspectives matter. In a Lean environment, we need input from all of our employees to be successful. Including employees in company issues, challenges, and opportunities empowers them, engages them, and connects them to strategy and vision of the company.

3. Say thank you and mean it. Most managers actually do thank employees who do great work. Employees work for more than money. They work for the praise and acknowledgement of their managers. A sincere thank you, said at the time of a specific event that warrants the applause, is one of the most effective ways to appreciate employees. Remember the phrase, “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.” Start to say “thank you” or “I appreciate what you do” when it is deserved, and it will inspire the behaviors to continue. Make it personal and sincere. Catch employees doing great things and respond. It empowers them, appreciates them, and celebrates their performance.

The Thanksgiving season is a great time to recognize employees for their dedication. Finding simple and creative ways to show your appreciation does not have to be difficult. Be creative and try to come up with new ways to say, “thank you” this holiday and every day.

Thanksgiving brings a valuable reminder of the power of rewards and recognition, but these interactions shouldn’t be limited to one season of the year. To keep your employees engaged and productive, find ways to let them know year-round that you are grateful for their efforts.

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Friday, November 15, 2019

Lean Quote: Clued-in Leaders are Vital to an Engaged Workplace Culture.

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Nothing liberates our greatness like the desire to help, the desire to serve. — Marianne Williamson

Businesses that take the time and effort to improve worker morale and job satisfaction can reap significant benefits; in fact, according to Gallup, disengaged workers “offer perhaps the greatest untapped opportunity for businesses to improve their performance and profitability.” But what’s the best way to increase engagement? Fortunately, it’s not as difficult (or costly) as it sounds.

Let’s get right to business with some key ways to raise spirits and get your culture working for you rather than against you.

1. Recognize and appreciate employees.
Who — and what — you celebrate tells your employees a lot about the kind of culture you have and the kind of culture you want. When frequent and genuine appreciation is modeled every day from the top down, you’ll create a culture that people want to be a part of and contribute to in every way.

2. Value a culture of open-mindedness.
If you want to raise employee morale, your culture must welcome input from all sources, regardless of internal conflicts. It’s the difference between employees that just follow orders and a culture that actively encourages debate and fresh perspectives. When you have many people and perspectives united toward one mission, that’s when employee morale soars to new levels.

3. Enable and empower employees to work to their full potential.
People want to stretch themselves, so potential is a huge motivator for most. It’s also closely tied to employee engagement levels. Find opportunities to be flexible and give employees the freedom to change how they work. When they’re able to realize their full potential, you’ll also see a boost in employee morale.

4. Managers care about employee concerns.
People spend the majority of their waking hours at work, and of everyone they interact with, their manager has the biggest impact. It’s essential to employee morale that managers care about their employees as individuals and show genuine interest in their concerns.

5. Last, but not least: Don’t forget to have fun.
Fun encourages creativity, productivity, and teamwork. It promotes bonding and a positive culture where employees are better connected to your organization. Fun is a great stress reliever, and it gives people something to anticipate. And beyond boosting employee morale, fun at work may even help your organization attract and retain top talent.

Clued-in leaders are vital to an engaged workplace culture. Knowing they have a good grasp on reality boosts the confidence and trust of employees.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Guest Post:12 Tips to Empower Your Staff

Creating a positive environment and empowering your staff is not as easy as you may think. Sometimes it is difficult to know what it takes to inspire trust and encourage productivity. Empowering your employees can difficult to put into practice at first, but it is crucial to the success of your business.
It involves letting your employees in on your company’s vision, clearly defining your expectations, taking time to give feedback and much more. Here are 12 tips to help you empower your staff. 
1. Develop a sense of trust
Your employees will only feel empowered if they know you trust them. Trust them that they are capable enough to do their work without you looking over their shoulders and that they will only call on you as a last resort.
When you micro-manage employees, they can feel stifled and are less likely to produce good work. Employees want a sense of autonomy and a feeling that they are in control of their own lives.
2. Give employees information and resources
If you provide your employees with the information they need to get the job done, you are setting them up for success. Seminars, how-to-guides and thorough instructions eliminate any confusion and employees will feel accomplished when they can complete the work on their own.
Sharing information ensures that everyone on a team understands essential tasks and critical issues. 
3. Communicate a clear vision
study by George Mason University showed that a feeling of being “in on things” is at the top of the list for many employees. People who don’t have a clear vision aren’t motivated to perform. Get everyone in your company on the same page and spell out roles clearly so that everyone knows their responsibilities.
When they don’t have clearly defined roles, they have no way of measuring their progress. Your employees need clear communication on a regular basis to keep their vision and know why their roles matter. 
4. Take time to give constructive feedback
Employees thrive on constructive feedback. They will only know how to improve if you point out where they can do better. A simple ‘good work!’ can make someone feel good in the moment, but well thought out ways in which they can improve gives employees more to think about.
The way in which you give feedback is critical – you need to inspire them instead of making them feel incompetent. 
5. Be open to employee feedback
Your employees don’t want to be thought of as a number and they want to know that you’re interested in what they have to say. Employees should feel they have a valuable contribution to make to the business.
It could be related to sharing ideas, suggestions, or reviews, to help out another colleague battling to cope with studies and work. Active listening also helps to eliminate misunderstandings and gives employees the opportunity to share concerns. 
6. Allow for failure
Having a voice in the decision-making process when it comes to their areas of expertise is one of the best ways to empower employees. They may make the wrong decisions but you need to encourage them not to fear making mistakes.
If they are allowed to make mistakes and given guidance on why they happened and how to prevent making them again, it is critical to their growth. 
7. Encourage self-improvement
Cultivate the mindset that learning is an ongoing process. Encourage your employees to learn new skills, even if it means supporting continued education or classes outside of the workplace. If you can’t offer financial support, you can at least offer some flexibility with their schedule.
8. Be flexible
Eliminate cumbersome, unnecessary rules, procedures, or policies that prevent people from doing their work to the best of their ability. Allow people some flexibility in setting their own schedules if this does not interfere with accomplishing goals.
For example, allowing a parent to come in a little late after dropping children off at school is not counterproductive. He or she may be able to avoid rush hour traffic and end up being more productive in the long run. 
9. Give credit where it’s due
When an employee goes above and beyond what is expected, give credit for this. Make sure employees know that you appreciate their efforts.
Whether it’s a report that was put together very well or a difficult customer who was dealt with in an exceptional manner, let employees know that you have noticed. This gives them more job satisfaction and ensures they will continue to do high-quality work. 
10. Delegate to demonstrate your trust
Handing down work to your employees is often necessary, but if you only give them tasks you feel are a waste of your time, it can do more harm than good. Look at delegating work as an opportunity for empowerment instead.
Ask an employee to share in a high-profile project or run a meeting. Choose to let go of some of your responsibility and define the end result you’re after rather than the way you expect it to be accomplished. 
11. Lower employee stress
Employees will be stressed when they are in a negative office environment where favoritism, unfairness and gossip are rampant.
The SCARF model created by David Rock, a neuroscientist, gives five drivers that subconsciously influence people – status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness. Respecting these five drivers will help to reduce employee stress in the workplace. 
12. Make sure employees take time off
Make sure employees don’t reach the point where they’re burned out. Actively support vacation time and foster an environment where it is perfectly fine to take a vacation when it is needed. Rejuvenated and well-rested employees are much more productive. Encouraging a healthy work/life balance will garner loyalty and enhance productivity overall. 
Today’s workplace is challenging and helping your employers to be the best they can be involves building trust, creating a clear vision, listening to them, supporting them in their career goals and much more. Loyalty goes both ways and if you hold up your end, you can show that your workforce truly matters to you. 

About the Author: Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at essay writing service australia, assignment servicedissertation service. She is interested in education technologies, expert essay writingbest essay writing services review and is always ready to support informative speaking at, paper writing service. Follow her on Twitter.

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Monday, November 11, 2019

14 Leadership Lessons from Veterans

I dedicate this blog to the veterans in our reading audience. You have my utmost respect and appreciation for your service to our country.

This is Veterans’ Day here in America, and as I think of leadership, I can think of no better examples than our military men and women. Here are some of the lessons they’ve taught me…lessons we ALL need in our lives as leaders.

1.    Good leaders are disciplined.
They get up early and hit the ground running. They serve when they feel like it…and when they don’t. They establish solid habits.
2.    Good leaders are trained.
They are teachable and purposely train for every possible scenario – drilling lessons so much that the actions become automatic.
3.    Good leaders are conditioned.
They are strong mentally and physically. Lives depend on their strength.
4.    Good leaders are insightful.
They have wisdom beyond their years.
5.    Good leaders are prepared.
Our military folks are prime examples of this. Not only are they personally prepared. They also have a team that is prepared, and they have their equipment prepared.
6.    Good leaders care…deeply.
It’s a “band of brothers” kind of care. Show me a leader who truly cares about his or her people, and I’ll show you a successful leader.
7.    Good leaders sacrifice for others.
Being a leader is not about being served – it is about serving.
8.    Good leaders get out of their comfort zones.
Neither the barracks nor the battlefield is comfortable. But good leaders live outside their comfort zones.
9.    Good leaders do what it takes to preserve legacy.
They have strong principles and protect them fiercely.
10.  Good leaders strategize.
They think, plan, and act. All three parts are critical to success.
11.  Good leaders value their teams.
They know that battles are not won alone.
12.  Good leaders recognize individual strengths.
They know that a team composed of diverse strengths is a strong team.
13.  Good leaders quickly gather intelligence and make informed decisions.
14.  Good leaders focus on a cause bigger than themselves.

I challenge you to do two things today:
·         Thank a veteran for their service.

·         Take the “good leader” assessment above and see how you’re doing as a leader.

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Friday, November 8, 2019

Lean Quote: Good Work Days Come From Doing Great Work With Great Coworkers

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"I want to be happy. I realized that being happy isn't necessarily about getting there; it's how you get there."  — Ben Huh (CEO, The Cheezburger Network)

Being happy at work is not just about avoiding bad days – it requires having frequent good days, where we actively enjoy our work. A good day at work is one where you feel great on the job. You’re happy at work and you definitely feel like having more of those days.

In a recent survey, 1 out of 3 respondents love their jobs and have a good work day every day or almost every day. That’s heartening, because being happy at work is not just about the absence of bad days – it’s very much about having many good days at work, characterized by positive emotions about your work.

But at the other end of the scale, 22% experience at most 2-3  good work days a month! This means that 80-90% of their work days are neutral at best and bad at worst. We fear it may be the latter. In our 2015 survey of “bad days at work”, 19% reported having a bad day at work every day or almost every day.

Here are the top 5 single factors that cause good days at work:

1. I did work that I knew was meaningful and made a positive difference for someone else.
2. I had freedom to work my own way
3. I did work I was proud of
4. I had fun with my coworkers
5. I did tasks that I enjoy doing

This clearly shows that it feels good to do good work. This contrasts with the depressingly common view that employees must constantly be externally motivated to perform either by the promise of rewards or the threat of reprisals. On the contrary, we seem to like nothing more than the opportunity to shine at work, especially when that work is meaningful and we have the freedom to work our own way.

Good relationships and fun with coworkers also matters and is one of the top causes of good work days.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Lean Tips #146 (#2401 - #2415)

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 #2401 - Deciding What Not to Do is as Important as Deciding What to Do
Strategy should always have a focus. Without focus, you are stuck with a list of disjointed “to dos.”

Warren Buffet reinforced this thinking when he said;

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that the really successfully people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

It’s saying “no” to the things on a haphazard to-do list that starts to shape a strategy.

The graveyard of corporate failures is littered with companies that tried to be all things to all people.

Lean Tip #2402 - Be Sure to Understand Well Parkinson’s Law
Never heard of it?

While it’s meaning has shifted over the years, its early incarnation went something like this: work expands to fill the allotted time.

This law is perhaps more true than many of Newton’s laws of physics!

If you want to ensure something gets done, give it a deadline. And, sometimes, the more ominous the deadline, the better.

Deadlines bring focus and energy. A lack of them lead to ambivalence and scatter-shot activity.

Lean Tip #2403 - Remember How Important it is to Have the Right People in the Right Place
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, wrote that the first job of a good leader is to;

“get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) before you figure out where to drive it.”

Note how precise he is with the order of events.

Strategy and tactical initiatives (i.e., where you are driving) are relatively impotent unless you have a team of people in roles that maximize their skills and ensure alignment throughout the organization.

Not having the right people in the right place guarantees a team that works at cross-purposes, making progress slow at best and non-existent at worst.

Lean Tip #2404 - Great Leaders put Their Teams First.
Great leaders always put their people first. When things go well, their team gets 100 percent of the credit; when they don’t, the leader shoulders the blame. Great leaders recognize accomplishments of all sizes by expressing gratitude, celebrating achievements, and developing recognition programs.

As a leader, you must create an environment where trust is at the center of the team’s value system by always recognizing accomplishments, providing a safe environment to fail, and providing unwavering guidance when times are turbulent. You, as the leader, need to be your team’s greatest cheerleader and not their greatest detractor.

Lean Tip #2405 - Great Leaders Put Their Teams First.
Great leaders always put their people first. When things go well, their team gets 100 percent of the credit; when they don’t, the leader shoulders the blame. Great leaders recognize accomplishments of all sizes by expressing gratitude, celebrating achievements, and developing recognition programs.

As a leader, you must create an environment where trust is at the center of the team’s value system by always recognizing accomplishments, providing a safe environment to fail, and providing unwavering guidance when times are turbulent. You, as the leader, need to be your team’s greatest cheerleader and not their greatest detractor.

Lean Tip #2406 – Allow Employees to be Creative and Innovate.
It is a fact that some of the best product improvements or new product ideas come from the people who know the product best. Give employees some free time to work on new ideas and prototypes. 3M gives their employees up to 15% of their scheduled time to do so with the “15% Rule.” Engineers and scientists can doodle around, as they call it, to play with new ideas for products.

Lean Tip #2407 – Make Sure Employees Feel Valued and Appreciated. 
This is even more important than pay. I have always found it helpful for people to know how their work contributes to the company’s products, services, and overall success. Make sure you take the time to tell people how much you appreciate their efforts, skills, and attitude.  This needs to come from all manufacturing employees, team leaders and the executive team - not just human resources.

Lean Tip #2408 – Allow Employees More Control of Their Work.
In manufacturing, much of the work is predetermined, based on the nature of the day-to-day process. Each day and hour might be prescribed, with the employee having little say over his or her schedule. Not surprisingly, this could dampen engagement. Great manufacturing leaders figure out the amount of control they can give back to the employees, which allows them some choice in potentially rote procedures.

Lean Tip #2409 – Create Accountability Amongst the Team. 
Great managers work with employees to establish how "we can all be" accountable to the work. When done right, accountability creates higher engagement. It is important to make sure underperforming employees and managers are held accountable, even in situations where management structures may not lend themselves to performance accountability.

Lean Tip #2410 – Ensure Your Team has Proper Resources
That’s the very first thing Manuel mentioned. Upper management shouldn’t skimp on resources for support and enhance safety, efficiency and productivity. Often in his career, Manuel would ask for additional resources, or tools he believed were important and needed. The answer he’d always get was a “no”. Sadly, that’s what often made his decision to leave the company that much easier.

Lean Tip #2411 – Provide Ongoing Opportunities for Development
An employee’s development shouldn’t stop after they’ve been trained in their role. Employees need to constantly be challenged and upskilled in the workplace to keep them engaged.

This development doesn’t have to take the role of prescriptive training. Embrace a holistic approach to professional development – from attending conferences to meetups and hackathons, let employees hone their skills in the way they learn best. Instead of offering rigid learning opportunities, the key is to provide employees with the tools and opportunities for self-directed development.

Lean Tip #2412 – Set Constant Challenges
Even though many employees seek out a sense of community in their workplace, it’s still important for individuals to feel like they can celebrate personal successes. In a recent survey that looked to identify the drivers of employee engagement, close to half the respondents said they found meaning in their sense of personal achievement and thrived on personal challenge.

Identify your high-performing employees and set them weekly, monthly or yearly challenges. These can be performance-driven, like raising KPI’s or sales targets, or cultural, like making a new work connection every week.

Lean Tip #2413 – Recognize Your Team and Their Hard Work. 
A manager recognizing and acknowledging a job well done is an essential motivator when developing employee engagement best practices. To be a successful manager, it’s good to understand what form of recognition works best for your staff. Words of encouragement can go a long way in this regard. A ‘good job’ or ‘thank you’ in regards to a task may be just what that employee needed to push forward, or to continue do just as well on the next project. Taking it a step further, consider holding an employee recognition day, or, if the company can, try offering a monetary bonus to those who truly go above and beyond. Recognition helps to foster positive attitudes and healthy behavior in the workplace which is a key factor to elevating the levels of employee engagement.

Lean Tip #2414 – Encourage Teamwork Among Employees. 
There is a reason that people flock to team sports. When a group of people pulls together to win the big game, it often comes an infectious feeling that engulfs everyone around them—from teammates to the fans—the sense of camaraderie and success spreads to the masses. The same can be said for the workplace environment. When a large account or significant client needs your services, developing a strong team of employees gives them a sense of greater purpose. Pulling them together to work towards a big company goal can be incredibly satisfying, and allows them to bounce ideas off each other to ultimately meet the needs of your client. It adds a sense of cooperation, consideration, and confidence in not only each other but in the company, itself.

Lean Tip #2415 – Listen To and Act on Employee Feedback. 
Listening to what your customers have to say is important, but so is listening to your employees. Having regular meetings to determine what areas of your workplace environment need improvement is an important part of keeping the employees engaged with the company. By using a company survey, or even a monthly meeting, giving your staff a voice is vital in making them feel like part of the company. If there is a situation within the internal workings of the company that goes unnoticed or unaddressed by management, it sends an unfavorable message to your staff. If they know that management cares, and hears their concerns, they will continue to maintain a high level of engagement instead of becoming despondent and disengaged.

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Monday, November 4, 2019

How to Avoid 5 Top Lean Project Management Mistakes

It’s easy to make mistakes in any line of work. However, when you are a lean project manager, the whole project depends on you and your ability to avoid mistakes. This can be hard as there is a lot of stress involved with managing a project. You have to coordinate people, estimate everything, communicate a lot and all of that with patience and dedication to detail that can help your team be successful. Mistakes are bound to happen. But knowing where you can go wrong with your project and your steps is crucial in recognizing them as you start to make them and doing your best to fix them. This is why we recommend getting to know yourself and your history with projects as well as checking some of these common lean project management mistakes out:
#1 - Not Being Open to Change
Perhaps one of the most important things you’ll want to consider is how open to change you are. It doesn’t matter if you’ve planned everything down to the hour of how you’re going to approach a lean project, these plans will never normally stick.
“You need to make sure you’re open to change in the sense that can embrace it and adapt. Be the kind of person who grows and moves forward with their teams, rather than stagnating” says Kathleen Garcia, a business writer at Oxessays and Academized.
#2 - Not Optimizing Written Communication
Hand in hand with Mistake #1, written communication is such a key part of everyday life, yet it’s usually overlooked dramatically. From writing emails and reports to text messages and marketing content, not optimizing your written communication skills will be your demise as it is for so many lean project managers.
#3 - Settling for an Average Team
A lean project is only ever going to be as successful as the team involved makes it, which automatically displays how important it is to make sure you’ve got the right team and the right people in the right places.
Work together with your team and you’ll be able to enhance your team to produce the best results.
#4 - Not Being Approachable
We see this problem far too often, and it needs to come to a stop. Sometimes there's a gap between the lean project leader and other workers.
“If there’s a problem with construction, you need the team members to feel comfortable in approaching you and telling you about it so it can be addressed rather than trying to hide it. Work on your interpersonal skills and be a proactive and engaged member of the team rather than an outside figure” says Louis Smith, a Project manager at Big Assignments and PaperFellows.
#5 - Not Listening
So, when you are a lean project manager, you often feel like you know everything better than anyone else. You overwork yourself, avoid delegating and tend to every detail of the project yourself. However, this is a huge mistake and it’s very commonly made by lean project managers. You need to let down your guard and listen to your team. You hired them for a reason. They are the experts in their niches and they know what needs to be done the best. Listen to their ideas and their solutions and delegate tasks to skilled team members. Trust your team.
As you can see, there are plenty of common mistakes that lean project managers around the world continue to make, but now you’re aware of them you can be proactive in making sure you don’t make them. The more mindful you can be, the better off the success of your project will be.

About Author:
Ellie Coverdale is a technical writer and project manager at Essay Roo as well as at Australian help. She has been involved in huge tech research projects, which she has taken may valuable learning experiences, and she also teaches writing at Write my essays service.

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