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Monday, January 7, 2019

Lean Tips Edition #134 (#2006 - 2020)

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 #2006 - Make “Professional Development” Part of the Culture.
For some organizations, professional development may be evidenced, in part, by a visible commitment to lifelong learning, the tendency towards insatiable curiosity, and a personal determination to constantly evolve, transform, and progress.

For others, professional development may follow a prescriptive, easily measurable track along a well-worn career path. However, in either case, professional development isn’t just about building relevant job skills—it’s about being driven to be better today than you were yesterday and finding new ways to contribute intellect, energy, and creative ideas to the organization’s collective talent pool.

Lean Tip #2007 - Show Your Team Members That You Support Them And Are Committed To Helping Them Realize Their Goals.
The importance of demonstrating to team members that you truly care about them as individuals, that you want to help them improve their professional skills, and that you support them being architects of personally satisfying careers simply cannot be overstated.

Leaders who ask for their employees’ input when constructing development plans will gain commitment, loyalty, and respect from their team members. Leaders who treat their employees as extra bodies, on the other hand, will not manage to retain talented people for very long.

It’s crucial for leaders to listen, and listen well, to what employees really want from their jobs and their perception of how they can contribute to the organization.

Although it seems like a small gesture, leaders who ask employees to be actively involved in the creation of their personal development plans show these employees that their opinions matter and that they are at least partially responsible for ensuring that their careers are challenging and meaningful.

Lean Tip #2008 - Challenge Workers Regularly
Challenging your staff members on a regular basis is another good way to help them become good leaders. After all, those in top positions need to know how to think on their feet, deal with challenging situations and people, and work out how to perform unfamiliar tasks. The sooner employees are tested in this area, the sooner they can grow stronger. In addition, when you test people, you quickly learn where their true capabilities lie, and where they still need some assistance.

Look for ways to assign your workers tasks which will push them past their current level of skill or knowledge. It is important to ensure the assignments you give people have some kind of inherent risk involved, to really up the ante. Be on hand to assist if necessary, but try to take a back-seat approach as much as possible so that employees strive to achieve the desired outcomes, and learn some important lessons along the way.

Lean Tip #2009 - Create Coaching Opportunities.
Great leaders should be good coaches, as well. A large part of coaching is tied to being able to provide effective feedback that is timely, specific, relevant, frequent, and actionable. Providing this type of feedback without micro-managing is a fine line leaders must learn how to walk.

Building positive relationships with team members helps open up opportunities for coaching. People learn better and are more willing to accept criticism from those they trust.

Performance reviews often present opportunities to coach employees. The key to being a great leader is being able to tie performance and development together. This keeps the conversation positive and focused on what is best for both employee and organization.

Leaders should look for opportunities to coach staff as part of their day-to-day work. Good coaches listen, ask open-ended questions, offer support, and encourage employees to push for alternative solutions.

Lean Tip #2010 - Bridge the Gap Between Knowledge and Action
One of the biggest mistakes organizations too often make is failing to bridge the gap between knowledge and action. In other words, they expend generous amounts of time and money on training, but don’t give employees a timely opportunity to transfer the knowledge they’ve acquired into action.

You can increase the odds that your employees will convert knowledge into action by setting them up for success. Always enable employees to debrief before they leave any training session.

Ask questions like “What will you do differently now that you know X?” Host follow-up meetings with your team to see what progress they’re making. Simple things like these can have a significant impact.

Lean Tip #2011 - Commit to Continuous Learning.
Make a commitment to improve your own skills and competencies. If you’re not continuously learning, why should your employees? Lead by example and your team will follow.

Show that you are interested in their success (why wouldn’t you be?). Ask questions about where they see their career going, or how they see their role evolving in the company. Even if they don’t have a plan laid out yet, these questions will make them think about their career and what they want to accomplish within the organization.

Show your employees that you don’t just want them to do better so you look better, but that you’re actively interested in their career, accomplishments and professional success.

Lean Tip #2112 - Coach in the Moment.
Learning is best when things are occurring in the moment. If an employee comes to you with a question about a process or protocol, use this opportunity to teach them something new.

Most people learn best by doing, so coach as you go! If you’re busy at the moment, try to schedule some time for later that day. They will appreciate that you took the time to show them how it’s done, and they can now coach others who have the same question.

Lean Tip #2113 - Reward Improvement
Workplace rewards can sometimes present a tricky problem: you want to let an employee know that you recognize and appreciate their improvement without seeming like you’re patronizing them. Sometimes, leaders think that gifts are the best ways to show appreciation, but often verbal praise, bonuses, or even the promise of career advancement (should the good work continue) are more effective in motivating teammates.

In short: make a clear statement that good work is recognized within the workplace—and not just with a gift card to the coffee shop around the corner.

Lean Tip #2114 - Collaborate and Share on Problem-solving
When employees get the idea that their manager or leader is the one who has to solve all the problems, it takes away from their sense of empowerment, and ultimately is likely to decrease engagement over time. Encourage team members to take responsibility, and work through problems or issues on their own, or collaboratively. It’s not the manager’s job to fix everyone else’s problems.

Lean Tip #2115 - Train and Develop Employees
Reducing training, or cutting it all together, might seem like a good way to save company time and money (learning on the job is said to be an effective way to train, after all). However, this could ultimately backfire. Forcing employees to learn their jobs on the fly can be extremely inefficient. So, instead of having workers haphazardly trying to accomplish a task with zero guidance, take the extra day to teach them the necessary skills to do their job. This way, they can set about accomplishing their tasks on their own, and your time won’t be wasted down the road answering simple questions or correcting errors.

Past their original training, encourage continued employee development. Helping them expand their skillsets will build a much more advanced workforce, which will benefit your company in the long run. There are a number of ways you can support employee development: individual coaching, workshops, courses, seminars, shadowing or mentoring, or even just increasing their responsibilities. Offering these opportunities will give employees additional skills that allow them to improve their efficiency and productivity.

Lean Tip #2116 - Evaluate and Reflect on Your Goals.
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we’ll get there is to know where we are right now and what our current level of satisfaction is. So first, take some time to think through and write down your current situation; then ask this question on each key point: Is that OK?

The purpose of evaluation is twofold. First, it gives you an objective way to look at your accomplishments and your pursuit of the vision you have for life. Secondly, it shows you where you are so you can determine where you need to go. Evaluation gives you a baseline to work from.

Take a couple of hours this week to evaluate and reflect. See where you are and write it down so that as the months progress and you continue a regular time of evaluation and reflection, you will see just how much ground you’re gaining—and that will be exciting!

Lean Tip #2117 - Set Goals That Motivate You
When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.

Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life. Without this type of focus, you can end up with far too many goals, leaving you too little time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an "I must do this" attitude. When you don't have this, you risk putting off what you need to do to make the goal a reality. This in turn leaves you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. And you can end up in a very destructive "I can't do anything or be successful at anything" frame of mind.

Lean Tip #2118 - Believe in Yourself
It’s important that you believe in yourself and in your ability to reach your goals.

Naturally, you can begin to realize that you have already accomplished many goals in your life. You already have amazing qualities that make you a genius, even if you may not believe it, yet.

The only person standing between you and success is yourself.

You do not even necessarily have to know how you will accomplish your goal, much like babies do not have to read books on walking in order to start walking.

They simply do until they succeed.

Lean Tip #2119 - Take Action to Achieve Your Goals
While visualization and affirmations are highly effective in propelling you toward your goals, you also have to take action each and every day.

The more action you take, the faster you will achieve your goals. Just by reading these words, you can become aware of all the steps you can take, right now, to achieve your goals.

You can begin to move toward your dream life. It may seem hard at first, but as you keep going, the fog will clear and you will start to feel better and better.

Lean Tip #2220 – Adapt and Adjust Your Goals
As you work on your daily mini goals and toward the bigger goal, be willing to adapt. Make the mini goals more difficult if they seem too easy. Make them easier if they become too taxing.

The main thing is that if your brain deems the mini goal to be too difficult, you'll quit. If it's too easy, you're running in place. Find the middle so you have advancement each day.

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