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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #158 (#2581-#2595)

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 #2581 – Reduce the Communication Barriers Between Employees to Create a Friction-less Communication.

In order for a business to run smoothly and carry out the necessary day-to-day operations in an efficient manner, communication amongst all employees must be as effective and clear as possible. When this is not the case, employees feel detached from one another and unmotivated, which in turn results in mistakes that could potentially have drastic consequences on the business' productivity.

This can be done in various ways, such as creating a platform to facilitate knowledge sharing., which could be in the form of an online knowledge-sharing forum where employees share their ideas for innovation and current experiments. Furthermore, it could also take the form of an afterwork activity (such as lunch or drink meet-ups), where senior employees can get to know the newer employees, and provide them with tips and recommendations on their new positions in the company.

Lean Tip #2582 – Schedule In-house Training for New Employees to be Mentored by Highly Skilled Employees.

Your employees are your greatest resource in terms - especially when it comes to knowledge and experience. Make sure that your employees have the opportunity to share theirs with the newer generation.

Not only does it help new employees learn and give them a set person to go to for advice, but mentors get to expand their skills. Learning how to mentor and making them put into words the knowledge that they have worked so hard to gain.

If you need help setting up a mentoring program, mentoring training can help you get started.

Lean Tip #2583 – Place Employees Together on Company Projects Where They Can Share Knowledge Rather Than Compete With One another.

Working on something as part of a larger company is a great way to accomplish point four above. When people work as part of a larger group they will understand the purpose of their own team on a higher level.

This should naturally help your team members see the importance of collaboration at every level of the company - and how important it is to share knowledge.

Lean Tip #2584 – Keeping the Communication Transparent

The first and foremost responsibility of a corporation is the use of clear and transparent means of communication. In an open knowledge sharing environment, employees can freely express their individualistic ideas and might contribute to future success. Moreover, no one likes a workplace environment where only a few employees can access inside information about the company. So, knowledge sharing via open communication develops a sense of trust and awareness among employees.

Lean Tip #2585 – Engaging People via Conversations

When like-minded people collide, something massive or even a new idea can occur. Of course, like-minded people don’t just run into each other randomly; they can meet up at a company’s event organized specifically for improving conversations among people. Apart from formal meetings, creating an opportunity where people can meet and communicate freely can lead to meaningful peer-peer conversations.

Lean Tip #2586 – Improve Communication by Strengthening Connections

Not only should communication be improved between team members who work together, but between employees and their managers. Make sure to address this during management training programs. Managers who take the time to get to know their employees and are willing to listen to them will find it easier to communicate and keep direct reports on task. When employees feel that managers are able to address their individual concerns, they are more likely to feel connected.

Lean Tip #2587 – Knowledge Sharing Can Improve Employee Engagement And Retention

When it comes to a company accepting change, embracing new technologies and adapting to innovation, then channeling everything into the talent pool will keep you ahead of the game.

By fostering a knowledge sharing culture, you’re giving employees the possibility to acquire, assimilate, but also transfer new knowledge, this being an excellent way to create value.

Additionally, becoming a company with a solid learning culture can even become a great tool for employee engagement and retention. Employees feel valued and appreciated when their employer invests in their growth and development, by putting a continuous stream of learning opportunities at their disposal. 

Lean Tip #2588 – Eliminate Ambiguity in the Workplace.

Remove any potential for confusion from all workplace communication, including company guidelines, roles, responsibilities and processes. Accountability begins with a clear understanding of who is responsible for which parts of the business, and employees struggle when management leaves important information open for interpretation. To avoid potential problems, follow up often and be firm about your expectations for open communication at all levels in the future.

Lean Tip #2589 – Explain the Business Why

Often leaders come up with a great idea, plan it, implement it, and may even communicate it but may not think to explain why a particular initiative makes sense at any given time.

We need to take the time to think about how an employee will perceive our great ideas.

This requires communicating from the 50,000-foot level and making sure employees understand why something is done and how it supports business goals and organizational strategy.

Lean Tip #2590 – Create Feedback Process

One way communication rarely works well. Create a forum for employees to offer feedback and ask questions.

This helps to ensure that the message was received as it was intended.

These feedback sessions can be done in staff meetings or an online employee forum.

Regardless of the structure or process, employees need to feel like their thoughts and opinions are heard.

This process also helps the organization identify areas that can be improved upon.

Lean Tip #2591 – Establish a Cooperative Mindset

It’s easier to start cooperation at the beginning, than force it later in the process.

Key members of the team must articulate that a collaborative, cooperative approach is wanted, needed, and will be supported. This means rewarding project team members when they think past the standoff or conflict and solve problems together.

Lean Tip #2592 – Teach People the “Why”

A lot of leaders make the mistake of forcing their vision, ideas and decisions on their staff. Sometimes they do this because they think it will save time or avoid pushback. However, in reality, this approach can really backfire, particularly if it’s done repeatedly. When people unwillingly commit to anything, they feel disingenuous and disempowered, which undermines motivation and, ultimately, positive performance and productivity. The way to avoid this is to teach people the reasons behind your grand ideas or vision. Share what you’ve learned or know, telling stories that communicate the benefits and purpose. Do this while building the buy-in as well as after the fact, as a way to reinforce its impact and success.

Lean Tip #2593 – Encourage Questions And Feedback

To build buy-in and align people around your vision, give them the time and place to ask questions and provide feedback. Let them challenge you and even demand that they do so if there’s any shred of doubt as to whether it’s going to be best for all. This is critical because sometimes even the most experienced leaders don’t realize that by pursuing a particular direction, they could be adversely impacting other aspects of the organization or its goals. When questions aren’t encouraged, surfaced and answered, misunderstandings and mistakes are more likely to occur. When they are encouraged, problems are more likely to be averted and your people will naturally become more engaged and involved in developing solutions. In turn, this sense of involvement helps enable their ownership and buy-in for the vision.

Lean Tip #2594 – Define What Winning Looks Like

Great business and military leaders do it. Elite athletes do it. Envisioning what winning looks like is a critical part of achieving success. As Henry Ford once said, "Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."

Studies in neuroscience show that when we literally picture ourselves achieving a goal, our brain starts to find ways to get us there. A great exercise to go through once a team has defined their shared vision and goals is to first individually picture what winning looks like and then share those ideas with the team. What does the organization feel like? What will it be celebrating? Going through this exercise is fun and inspiring. It is interesting to see how different team members will envision the win.

Lean Tip #2595 – Set Regular Check-ins to Stay Aligned

A rhythm of meetings and scheduled communication is key for any team to stay aligned. Priorities shift and leaders must be ready to adapt. But all must agree on what the priorities are or need to become. Otherwise varying directives will be coming from the top and chaos will ensue. These check-ins are one of the priorities and must be consistent. Time must be made for those accountable to share updates on progress so that all are informed on where things stand.

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