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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