Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Top 10 Lean Tips of 2019


As 2019 comes to an end and we look toward 2020 I wanted to revisit some tips. The Lean Tips published daily are meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledgeable tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey. Here are the top 10 Lean tips from this past year:

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 #2230 – Inspire Employees
Employees are the eyes and ears of your business operations. If there are weak spots in your system, it’s likely employees know about them. It’s also likely they want a better process for completing tasks. But when your staff thinks you’re a “my way or the highway” leader, they usually aren’t motivated to come up with solutions.

Involve your employees in improving business operations. Ask your staff where improvements can be made. Take notes of the flaws that are pointed out and solutions offered. Make sure your employees know their opinions matter and you are open to suggestions. In addition to accelerating your business process improvement, showing your employees that they add value to your small business can take the stress off of your staffing management plan by keeping employee turnover at a minimum.

Lean Tip #2285 – 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 #2312 - 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 #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 analyze 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 #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 #2388 - Make the Improvement Real
Employees aren’t idiots.  When senior management seeks to drive change in the organization, they like to have a “quick win” that can be used as an example to the entire organization.  But sometimes, in their haste to have a trophy win, senior managers choose a change that yields very little result and does little to improve quality, lead times or other key performance indicators.  Employees realize this and see the program as one more in a series -- the “flavor of the month” -- for performance improvement.  Instead, work with employees to get a substantial win -- something that is indisputable and will lead the team to believe in the program.

Lean Tip #2397 – Demonstrate Your Genuine Concern For Employees
Great bosses realize that they can't achieve their goals if their people aren't performing at their very best. Employees, especially in times of stress and challenge, look to management for solutions. They seek guidance when they feel uncertain and isolated from organizational decisions that are out of their control. As a first step, be an example of transparency and honesty. Open the lines of communication between management and employees. Talk openly and regularly about what you know, and encourage input. Show you truly care about your people's welfare by understanding their concerns and by doing whatever you can to help them. This not only helps you solve any problems you have direct influence over, but also helps them by allowing them to talk freely about what is troubling them.

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 #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.


These 10 Lean tips can help you with your journey in 2020. What advice would you share for the New Year?

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