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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #148 (#2431 - 2445)

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 #2431 – Communicate Face-to-Face Whenever Possible
Companies have been relying on email as a primary method of communication for the past several years. Electronic communication can have a detrimental effect on any type of relationship, especially relationships with co-workers. How many times have you sent an email to a co-worker or superior that was misconstrued? Even if you had good intentions, electronic communication is often misinterpreted. Since the majority of meaning during a conversation comes from nonverbal gestures and facial expressions, it is easier to decipher the meaning behind what a person says when communicating face-to-face. When gestures and smiles are taken out of the equation, recipients can get the wrong idea – especially if the person isn’t the most articulate writer. To improve workplace communication, pick up the phone every once in a while, or pay a visit your co-worker when you have something important to say.

Lean Tip #2432 – Don’t Just Hear – Listen
Listening is an important communication skill that many people do not possess. Most conflict is a result of poor listening. In order to share information with another person, you have to hear what is being communicated. If you’re thinking about your next meeting or planning tonight’s dinner during the conversation, you’re not paying attention. To learn how to listen well, paraphrase what was said to show that you are listening and to verify accuracy. This will reduce the likelihood of conflict and will help you become a more effective communicator. Another way to learn how to listen better is to pretend there is going to be a quiz at the end of the discussion. Try to keep a mental checklist of all of the important points the person makes.

Lean Tip #2433 – Inform and Inspire.
Communication is a form of information exchange. Explaining and clarifying your thoughts and ideas is important in a leadership role. But passing on information to your team is only half of the equation. As a leader, it’s vital to your business that your communication efforts inspire your team as much as they educate them. Plan ahead for meetings and conversations so you can effectively mix information and inspiration. If this is particularly challenging for you, the support of a mentor or coach can be helpful.

Lean Tip #2434 – Become A Good Listener
You’ve probably heard it many times before, but a big part of communication is listening. Improving your listening skills is a great tip on how to improve your communication skills.

It may be tempting to interrupt speakers or to chime in when you think you understand, but if you allow a speaker to finish speaking and then respond, it lets you absorb more of what they are saying and shows them more respect.

It’s surprising how many people in industry have less than average listening skills. You may be able to articulate yourself at a high level and get your message across, but if you’re not a good listener, then your skills can be improved.

Communication in a workplace is a two-way street. Speaking is only half of it – listening is the other half. This doesn’t only mean hearing what the person has to say, it includes:
·        Allowing the other person to finish what they have to say
·        Thinking about what they are saying and what message they are trying to convey
·        Considering their point when responding
If you consider these three points, you’ll find your own listening skills improving and being able to communicate better.

Lean Tip #2435 – Recognize Employees
It’s no secret that recognition (or lack thereof) directly impacts an employee’s level of engagement. In fact, research shows that feeling unrecognized and undervalued is one of the seven hidden reasons why employees leave their organizations. Give employees what they want, and cultivate engagement via communication. Communicate employee value with recognition practices, like praise from senior leadership, increased autonomy, or meaningful rewards.

Lean Tip #2436 – Analyze Your Current Workflow
You might find it a bit strange but most of the businesses out there don’t know much about their work process. That’s why the first step towards improving workflow is to list every process and then do a thorough analysis. You need to know how each process in every division or department of your business operates. Your goal here is to figure out how you have been operating so far and what you have been doing wrong. Talk to your employees, ask them for their feedback on each process or workflow that your business follows. Analyze every aspect and document every detail for the upcoming steps.

Lean Tip #2437 – Identify Key Areas of Focus
Once you are done analyzing your current work process, it’s time to look for opportunities to improve. Keep your eyes open for any waning motivation, unclear instruction, or communication break down. Identify factors that can or that are affecting the effectiveness of your existing process or workflow. Fill in the gaps and create a better version of your work process. Make sure that your new and improved workflow has no loopholes.

Lean Tip #2438 – Break Down the Process
The next step in process improvement is to break your work process into smaller, more manageable steps. Remember, the simpler the better. Most of the businesses today are all caught up in the dependencies and decision points within any given project because their work process is too complicated. Keep your process simple, break it down into discrete steps and aim simply towards the desired outcome.

Lean Tip #2439 – Document Everything
Let’s be realistic. You can’t carry out every process or task from your memory. You need to lay out every step included in the process that you are following in order to get work done effectively. There is no need to be formal, just scrawl down each step of your current workflow on a piece of paper. Don’t assume anything without proof. Document what’s really happening and make sure that things are working exactly as they should.

Lean Tip #2440 – Refine Your Process
No work process or workflow is perfect — we all know that. Therefore, once you have made improvements in your existing work process or implemented the new workflow, be ready to refine it over time. Again, there are workflow management solutions that make it easy for you to refine your workflow and adjust to the changing work environment with simple drag and drop.

Lean Tip #2441 – Align Employee Goals with Company Goals
Although some employees might think so, managers don’t just exist to help employees reach their own professional goals. While many managers do care about their employees personally, their job is to develop employees for the continued success of the company. It benefits both the manager and the employee when the employee’s goals align with the overarching goals of the organization, and it helps steer goal-setting in the right direction. This is not ground-breaking news, but it might surprise you to learn, however, that more than 80% of managers say that their goals are limited in number, employee-specific, and measurable. So where is the disconnect between managers and their employees?

Alignment can be difficult if managers don’t understand the strengths, weaknesses and intrinsic motivations of their people. One surefire way to familiarize managers with their employees’ wants, needs and goals is to establish open and honest communication. They should try to increase communication to at least once a week, especially during big projects and track each employee’s progress to identify strengths and areas of improvement. Finding the time to personally communicate with each employee isn’t easy, but the benefits are worth it in the long run.

Lean Tip #2442 – Make Employee Performance Goals Challenging, but Attainable
“Shoot for the stars” isn’t really an analogy that works for performance management. Managing employee performance is all about practical, attainable, and realistic goal setting. While having ambitious goals shouldn’t be a bad thing, it can negatively impact employee morale and engagement. Moreover, setting goals that are too high can burn out employees. Micromanagement is also a danger here—of those who had experienced it,  71% said micromanagement interfered with job performance. Once a manager sets a goal for their employee, they must trust that employee to complete it, but remain available if the employee requests help.

However, goals shouldn’t be too easy. An overly simple goal will leave an employee bored and stagnant in their development. Instead, managers should assess each employee’s strengths and craft goals based on individual development. One thing that should be avoided is expecting each employee to meet the same goals. They are not the same person and goals should reflect that; personalization is key.

Lean Tip #2443 – Provide Transparency and Visibility
If goals are going to be truly impactful and driving, they must be aligned at every level of the organization. Give everyone visibility to organizational, team, and individual employee goals. Be open about progress toward goals and even failure to meet goals. Common understanding about goals within your organization creates alignment, encourages shared knowledge, and fosters collaboration. It helps employees and teams see how their responsibilities fit into the organization, and it cultivates recognizing the work of others.

Lean Tip #2444 – Create an Action Plan
For each goal to be met, it needs an action plan. That relates to the “measurable” component of the SMART system – creating a list of milestones that the employee can use to keep their progress on track throughout the year. You’ll need to set milestones and make each mini-goal measurable, so you know if you’re getting off track.

This means setting deadlines that are reasonable, but also keep you moving forward. What is your target timeframe for completing the overall goal? Work backward from that and start setting target dates, which may be weeks, months or years from now.

Another part of that action plan is ensuring that each employee has all the tools they need to achieve their goals, whether it’s an online class, new software, or other resource.

Lean Tip #2445 – Recognize Attained Goals

Recognizing the people who reach or exceed the goals that have been set shows other employees that this kind of effort is valued by your organization. And providing bonuses, gift certificates or a public acknowledgment of an individual’s accomplishment will further incentivize colleagues. On the other hand, when a team member’s talent and dedication go unnoticed, other workers at your organization are likely to feel that there’s no point to working hard. Even worse, they may start looking for a new job at a company that puts a premium on recognizing outstanding effort and accomplishment.

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