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Monday, November 25, 2019

Lean Tips Edition #147 (#2416 - 2430)

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 #2416 - Create a Workplace Environment Free of Fear.
So many business and companies tend to operate in a performance-based environment. This sort of atmosphere is a favorable environment for fear and uncertainty to grow in, so keeping employee engagement steady is especially important. Allowing your employees to make choices without having to run everything up to the chain of command, allows them great moments within their career. Coincidentally, these performance-based environments can also lead to the fear of getting reprimanded if their decision falls flat. Managing a business where employees are punished for mistakes or a wrong choice is a sure-fire strategy for staff to become disengaged and unwilling to take the risks sometimes necessary for success. This is another opportunity to choose a kinder, more positive approach with your staff that can still be effective, without diminishing their levels of engagement.

Lean Tip #2417 - Motivate, Inspire and Coach Your Employees.
Not only should your employees understand the scope of their work, but as their manager, so should you. Creating a positive workplace environment starts with happy employees, but doesn’t end there. The tone is set by the managerial staff from the beginning, and a good way to achieve a positive tone is to be more than their boss; be the best coach they could have. If you see an employee struggling with a task, approach them to see if you can help in any way. Whether it is a pat on the back and words of encouragement urging them to keep trying or offering guidance on policy and procedure, they will see your willingness to help as a concern for their state of mind, as well as the company’s success. Many individuals throughout history who’ve been praised for outstanding accomplishments have had a good coach or mentor standing behind them. Be that coach for your employees.

Lean Tip #2418 - Build the Team Spirit
Bridging the gap between management and plant workers involves getting rid of some outdated mindsets especially the one where factory workers continuously think in terms of “us versus them.” In this case, “us” refers to the plant workers while “them” refers to management.

To overcome this hurdle, encourage a culture where workers buy-in on the goals and future direction of the company. Plant employees need to know that they are not merely resources or factors of production but that everyone is an important part of the team. This is one the most important elements to answer How To Motivate Employees Working On The Plant Floor.

Whatever continuous improvements the management wants to see, it is noteworthy that strong leadership and committed management support is critical for the success of any idea in an organization.

Also, the leaders need to embody and demonstrate positive change in the plant. For instance, if a critical asset breaks down and the maintenance team needs to put in overtime, instead of giving instructions and going home, a top-level manager can stay back to encourage them. This gesture, plus the knowledge that they will be properly compensated for their work, will keep the team motivated.

Lean Tip #2419 - Allow Autonomy
It’s not fulfilling enough for people to report to work and take instructions like robots every day. Workers should be empowered through self-determination. This means that they have some freedom to choose how to complete tasks without constant micromanaging.

Let’s take the example of machine operators. Giving them a sense of ownership and control over the equipment that they operate daily shows that the management trusts their abilities. In turn, this encourages them to take accountability and develop a sense of pride in the assets and equipment under their care.

One tried and trusted methodology for improving operators’ involvement in machine care is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). This is a proactive all-hand-on-deck maintenance strategy that involves everyone in equipment upkeep. All staff are responsible for the basic maintenance of the machines they operate. The benefits of adopting TPM include minimal wastage and close to zero accidents, defects, and downtime.

Lean Tip #2420 - Break Up the Routine.
Even “fun” tasks are monotonous when you have to do them over and over again, for hours and hours on end.

You should encourage your employees to shake things up and include more variety in their day; perhaps they could spend the morning on one thing and afternoon on another.

Or if (like in a factory) you have a variety of different, highly repetitive roles, get an hourly staff rotation going so no one spends too long on one thing and everyone gets multi-skilled in the process.

Whatever it is, breaking up the routine even just a little bit could help your staff to feel a little more refreshed and revitalized.

Lean Tip #2421 – Make Respectful Communication The Norm
Communication is open, honest, and respectful. People feel free to express their thoughts, opinions, and potential solutions to problems. People feel as if they are heard out and listened to by team members who are attempting to understand. Team members ask questions for clarity and spend their thought time listening deeply rather than forming rebuttals while their co-worker is speaking.

They do this by formulating questions that will lead them to more deeply understand their teammate's point of view.

Lean Tip #2422 – Focus on Team Member Strengths
Focusing on the weaknesses of your team members can seriously affect engagement and consequently lower the team’s productivity. According to Gallup research, employees who use their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.

Everyone is different - we have different strengths, passions, and weaknesses. One of the cornerstones of a good team leader is focusing on individuals’ strengths, and bringing together a team of people that has a combined skillset to get the job done. As long as everyone contributes by bringing a strong skill to the team, their weakness should not be dwelt on. 

Lean Tip #2423 – Reward Excellent Teamwork
One of the best ways to build camaraderie in the workplace is to give formal recognition for employee achievements. One of the best things to praise your employees for is excellent teamwork.

If an individual goes above and beyond their role to help the organization as a whole, ensure that they feel appreciated for their efforts. Also remember to appreciate employees who go out of their way to help others in need, even if this doesn’t correlate with business goals.

Showing gratitude for altruistic behavior is an excellent way to create an awesome, friendly culture. When you have a workplace where people are rewarded for helping one another, teamwork will naturally improve.

Recognition can come in the form of kind words from a direct manager, or perhaps a photo in the company’s internal newsletter with a description of the achievement.

Lean Tip #2424 – Don’t Micro-Manage Employees
If you treat your employees like children who can’t be expected to work like unsupervised adults, don’t expect them to work together like an effective team! In order for teamwork to flourish, respect is required.

It’s important to specify goals, set deadlines and give employees all the tools they need to perform to the best of their abilities, but when you micro manage, employees will be less inclined to work effectively and more inclined to do what’s required to please their direct manager.

Even if an employee is fully committed to the organization, they will never perform to the best of their abilities if they have someone breathing down their neck.

As an alternative to micromanaging, build a culture of trust, respect and honesty. If you create a wonderful culture, teamwork will naturally flourish.

Lean Tip #2425 - Be Present and Attentive
Teamwork is impossible when people think you don't care about them.

Rather than being that person who tears around the office, constantly absorbed in the next meeting, the next quarter, the next campaign, blind to the human beings in your midst, be that team member who takes time to give their full attention to each conversation.

When team members see you listening to them, they will be more likely to buy into your teamwork-building efforts. As old-fashioned as it may sound, teamwork is the result of a group of people who care enough about each other to work together.

Lean Tip #2426 – Focus on the Solution, Not the Problem
Neuroscientists have proven that your brain cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem. This is because when you focus on the problem, you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity,’ which in turn activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions.

I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem,’ instead, try to remain calm. It helps to first, acknowledge the problem; and then, move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be, rather than lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

Lean Tip #2427 – Visualize the problem
Try and document a picture of the process depending on the problem. This may or may not be relevant, but we all know pictorial representations often help. Draw a simple diagram without worrying about technical conventions, specific constraints etc. A simple picture diagram can help visualize the most complex of problems in any area. Use any simple tool like PowerPoint, white boards, sheets, and papers and never shy away from starting to draw these on the fly if understanding a problem is becoming a challenge.

Lean Tip #2428 – List Out as Many Solutions as Possible
Perhaps the best advice on problem-solving is never to dismiss an idea. Write down every possible solution to a problem you can think of, even if it seems silly. It may lead to a better idea or be something that could be adapted to become a great idea.

Lean Tip #2429 – Seek Your Team’s Input
When faced with a problem at the workplace, as a decision maker you can assess and come up with a solution, but it helps to include the input of your immediate team members. Sometimes, the people who are actually involved in the operational aspects will be in a better position to suggest ways to overcome a certain crisis.

By being a leader that listens, it will help you earn your team’s trust while also improving your problem solving capabilities.

Lean Tip #2430 - Break Down Silos.

You don't have to be in a big company to suffer from poor communication. Even two people in a department or company can be personally productive yet totally oblivious to the activities of each other. Great problem solvers are also great facilitators. They use their communication skills to help others share information so all bases are covered. They then encourage people to work together outside their respective roles so the sum is greater than the parts.

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