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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lean Tips Edition #141 (#2326-#2340)

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 #2326 – Invest in Your Employees
Another way to inspire and motivate your employees is by investing in them. Offering things like tuition reimbursement, a mentoring program, one-on-one coaching, and job shadowing with people in higher positions sends a clear message: you care about their career and their future. Some companies, in fact, have periodic meetings with their employees to discuss their career paths and make sure they stay on track.

Aside from improving skills and increasing staff knowledge, this kind of investment in employee career pathing gives them a reason to stay with the company for the long haul rather than be on the lookout for a better offer.

Invest in your employees, and you’ll give them a reason to stick around. When your employees grow and improve, so does the company.

Lean Tip #2327 – Give Employees a Purpose
No matter what your job is, whether it’s packing orders at a distribution warehouse, or managing a Fortune 500 company at the executive level, we all want to know that our jobs matter. Show your employees why they matter to the company, and what the results of their work are, and they’ll feel rewarded and motivated to keep at it. Emphasizing the importance of employee contributions (and giving people credit for good work) bolsters a sense of confidence and achievement, which can motivate people to keep working hard.

Lean Tip #2328 – Show Your Trust
A surefire way to motivate and inspire your employees is to demonstrate that you have faith in their abilities to get the job done. You can do this by assigning them more responsibilities and giving them the chance to rise to the challenge. Doing so shows that you trust them, which has a way of motivating people to keep doing their best.

Micromanaging your employees and hovering over their shoulders at every step is counterproductive because it makes them nervous. If your employees are too afraid to try new things, they won’t be giving you their best. Give them greater autonomy and responsibility and they will rise to the occasion.

Lean Tip #2329 – Be Transparent
Every relationship, including work relationships, is built on trust. Defaulting to transparency is one of the best ways to encourage an atmosphere of trust amongst you and your team, and a team that trusts you will be more motivated and engaged with their work.

Transparency also helps ensure that everyone is working with the same information. That in itself can benefit the team.

Lean Tip #2330 – Cultivate a Fun Workplace
Managers should keep in mind that employees spend quite a lot of time at work, which means that the workplace can't be solemn and somber all the time. While productivity and performance are of utmost importance, people also need to work in a pleasant environment where they sometimes have fun. Look for ways to productively encourage laughter and enjoyment into your organization in ways that are appropriate. Encourage friendly chatter and banter, as well as create shared experiences such as potluck employee lunches, special occasion celebrations and more.

Lean Tip #2331 – Create Regular Thinking Time
Operations and manufacturing managers are time poor. They’re often so involved in the responsive day-to-day that very few create space in their diary to think. They often have KPIs for continuous improvement, but are limited in their capacity to point their curiosity in new and potentially impactful directions.

Make the habit: To allow yourself this ‘space’, book an hour of time a fortnight to read industry news, or analyse your shop floor data in a new way.

Consider different perspectives and possibilities and visualize how you’d do things differently. Then pick up these ideas in your next scheduled slot, and share the well-formed ones with your team or manager,  so they can be actioned or developed further.

Lean Tip #2332 – Connect to the Customer
The production cycle is a continuous loop with no end: meeting KPIs; solving production issues; managing staff; maintaining plant equipment. There’s rarely time for internal collaboration, let alone consulting with the customer.

Connecting with the customer will help you understand their pain points, desires, new focus areas, future plans, and company updates. This information can be used to improve production.

For example, if new traceability regulations are top-of-mind for your downstream customers you’ll be able to re-focus your efforts in quality checks, training for staff, or product and materials tracking technologies and even suggest new business initiatives. 

Make the habit: Attend industry forums, organize informal client lunches, and talk to customer-facing employees in your organization. Aim to do at least one of these per week. Understand customer pain points so you can prioritize improvement activities around these.

Lean Tip #2333 – Create Opportunities to Maximize Efforts
In any task, project or strategy, it’s possible to hit multiple outcomes with a deliberate approach. It's more time efficient and effective. Rather than just following the structure of a done-to-death process, look at it and ask, ‘what multiple objectives can we achieve if we tackle them together?’ 

For example, implementing a continuous improvement process like 5S might aim to achieve ‘less waste in production’, but if you deliberately aim to achieve ‘greater engagement with the team’ and ‘staff training and empowerment’ as outcomes you might go about it differently.
You might create a goal, and delegate key staff to take ownership of the program, do some lean improvement training or take turns in reviewing its success. This would also increase the chances of program success through staff engagement.

Make the habit: Whenever you begin a new initiative, think about how you can use it to achieve more than one objective. Involve your team in strategy sessions for better collaboration and to gain support for new initiatives.

Lean Tip #2334 – Create Opportunities for Everyone to Contribute
Getting bogged down in urgent tasks can stop the important things like incremental improvements, from being addressed. That's where your staff can come in.

Many of the best ideas come from employees, and higher levels of staff involvement will get the greatest buy-in for change. What’s more, it can also boost company performance.

But how do their ideas get through?

Make the habit: Make it easy for improvement suggestions to be fed back into the system through an improvement suggestion program:

·        Use the intranet, a social forum or a suggestions box
·        Recognize all suggestions publicly via official written communication or at monthly catch ups
·        Verbally encourage ideas from all staff levels
·        Provide a framework: outline how improvement ideas should be tied to businesses goals
·        Publicly reward any actioned suggestions, provide rewards for the best idea
·        Ensure the business is actively assessing and implementing suggestions, to keep staff motivated to contribute
·        Showcase or demonstrate ideas that were successfully implemented and executed.
·        Importantly, make work a safe place to contribute by regularly encouraging suggestions, giving feedback and admitting your own mistakes.

Lean Tip #2335 – Empower Staff to be Innovators
Employee’s performance and enthusiasm for change will determine the company’s success. And, as the baby boomers start to retire, manufacturers face a key challenge in educating and developing the next generation of skilled workers in digital manufacturing.

Spend some time developing your production staff to offload some of the day-to-day burden and save the business time and money. Empowered staff are more proactive, make the right decisions independently, problem-solve and champion change programs.

Make the habit: Some actionable ways to empower employees are to allow paths to promotion, provide relevant training, facilitate peer-to-peer training, involve employees’ in decision-making and strategy, and design job roles for autonomy and play.

Lean Tip #2336 – Your Arrival at Work Sets the Tone for the Day
Picture Mr. Stressed-Out and Grumpy. He arrives at work with a frown on his face. His body language telegraphs overworked and unhappy. He moves slowly and treats the first person who approaches him abruptly. It takes only a few minutes for the entire workplace to get the word. Stay away from Mr. Stressed-Out and Grumpy if you know what's good for you this morning.

Your arrival and the first moments you spend with staff each day have an immeasurable impact on positive employee motivation and morale. Start the day right. Smile. Walk tall and confidently. Walk around your workplace and greet people. Share the goals and expectations for the day. Let the staff know that today is going to be a great day.

Lean Tip #2337 – Make Time for People for Employee Motivation
Spend time daily with each person you supervise. Managers might aim for an hour a week with each of their direct reports. Many studies indicate that a key employee work motivation factor is spending positive interaction time with the supervisor.

Schedule quarterly performance development meetings on a public calendar so people can see when they can expect some quality time and attention from you. You can make their year, not just their day.

Lean Tip #2338 – Focus on the Development of People for Employee Motivation
Most people want to learn and grow their skills at work. No matter their reason: a promotion, different work, a new position or a leadership role, employees appreciate your help. Talk about changes they want to make in their jobs to better serve their customers.

Encourage experimentation and taking a reasonable risk to develop employee skills. Get to know them personally. Ask what motivates them. Ask what career objectives they have and are aiming to achieve. Make a performance development plan with each person and make sure you help them carry out the plan. The quarterly performance development meeting is your opportunity to formalize plans for people. You can make their career.

Lean Tip #2339 – Share the Goals and the Context: Communicate for Employee Motivation
People expect you to know the goals and share the direction in which your workgroup is heading. The more you can tell them about why an event is happening, the better.

Prepare staff in advance if visitors or customers will come to your workplace. Hold regular meetings to share information, gain ideas for improvement, and train new policies. Hold focus groups to gather input before implementing policies that affect employees. Promote problem-solving and process improvement teams.

Lean Tip #2340 – Say Thank You to Your Staff Regularly
Motivating staff doesn't have to be complicated, and isn't much harder than saying thank you to staff and encouraging your managers to do the same. Yes, a Mckinsey study showed that praise from the immediate manager was deemed to be the most effective staff motivator, (cited by 67% of respondents). So, start from the top by thanking and praising your direct reports and encouraging them to pay-it-forward by praising and thanking their subordinates regularly. Staff motivation should soar as a result.

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