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Monday, October 26, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #162 (#2641 -2655)

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 #2641 - Everyone Should Be A Leader.

I’m a great believer in decentralization of responsibilities. I used to think that hierarchy was a vital part of creating an organization, but I was wrong. Hierarchy, especially in small organizations, can suppress your team’s creativity and freedom to think and act.

Think of the great Chicago Bulls: they had Michael Jordan, but what would have happened if the only guy who could make a decision on the court was Jordan himself? The Bulls and Jordan were the best because every team member had the freedom to bring his thoughts and skills to the table, allowing the team to win and succeed. Make sure that you hire only those who would be interested in taking on responsibilities, and be ready to let them lead.

Lean Tip #2642 - Brainstorm Often.

Brainstorming is a great way to set goals, road maps and have a discussion on just about anything. Use brainstorming as a platform to hear new ideas and allow your team members to find creative solutions to everyday challenges you may encounter along the way.

Brainstorming will allow your team members to express their thoughts and flourish. This will help them to be better at what they do, but also to take on more responsibilities.

Lean Tip #2643 - Ensure Management Support

Supervisors and managers play a key role in “keeping the learning alive”. Ensure that supervisors, managers and owners are following up with staff regarding what their needs are, and how team building efforts can be enhanced. Managers also play a key role in ensuring that the learning from team building initiatives is brought back to the office.

Lean Tip #2644 - Invest in Training Your Team

Ever wondered what the best way to invest in the growth of your company is? It all starts with investing in your team.

Your team is more than just the fuel of your company. They are also the wheels, gears, and steering wheel. Without a properly functioning team, your company is not going anywhere.

Team building is an easy way to invest in your team. It shows that you are willing to put time and money into making them happier. Offering training to your employees is one way to invest in your team that demonstrates your commitment to them and also has a direct correlation to the way your company runs.

Consider holding group team building activities that focus on teaching your employees a new skill that is useful for the work they do. Another option is to provide training opportunities as rewards to employees that go the extra mile.

However, you choose to go about incorporating training into your company, know that this is an important investment. It may not have an immediate ROI, but it will come back to you in bigger and better ways.

Lean Tip #2645 - Put People First

You might measure your results with data, but there is a person behind every statistic.

When considering employee engagement you should start with your people. “What does my team need?” “Will my team members enjoy this?” “How will this benefit my team?”

Do not hesitate to ask! This whole guide has been about communicating with and trusting your team members, so why not trust them to help you pick engagement activities? Ask them what kind of skills they would like to learn or what you can do to make their work day more enjoyable. Creating an environment of trust is vital to any team, and it starts by listening to your employees.

By putting your people first, you are also showing them that you prioritize their needs and that you are willing to listen to their suggestions.

Lean Tip #2646 – Give Constructive Feedback.

Feedback does not mean criticizing, chiding, or disapproving. Instead, it should be constructive in nature and include specific recommendations for further improvement and development. Feedback should also be delivered regularly and tied to data or examples such as the performance metrics or the individual development plan. Only using feedback for employee reviews can result in missed opportunities to guide an employee through the professional development process. Employees want to know how they are doing. If feedback is used as a tool for growth and recognition, and not a tool to knock the employee down, it will make a measurable difference.

Lean Tip #2647 – Consider the Skills and Training Needed by Each Worker

It’s increasingly clear that employees want companies to offer personal and professional development, as learning and development have become crucial aspects in engaging and retaining your workforce.

Training your staff enables your company to hold them to company values, and when these values align with theirs; your workforce will be motivated to stay as they’ll envision a future with your business.

Amidst fears that managers have, mainly that training and development allow staff to find employment elsewhere, consider this aspect – well-trained workers are efficient, to the point where training and development may pay for itself, as a more efficient workforce will become more profitable. Another benefit is that well-run businesses tend to also attract and retain talented employees.

Lean Tip #2648 – Help Your Managers Become Better Coaches

Part of becoming an effective coach is learning about your direct report; their unique strengths, what drains them, and what motivates them so you can help guide them on their path to success. One way to accomplish this is by asking the right questions at the right cadence. Here are 5 questions you can start asking your people every week during check ins and 1-on-1s:

• What’s going well in your role? Any wins this week?

• What challenges are you facing?

• How are you feeling? What’s the morale around you?

• On a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled are you? Why?

• How can I become a better leader?

Having intentional conversations on a regular basis will help you form deeper connections with your people. These discussions will also contribute to building a more psychologically safe environment for employees to be open and honest.

Lean Tip #2649 – Enhance Cross-Departmental Collaboration

A truly cohesive workforce that excels at cross-departmental training can help bridge the gap between cultures, give employees the opportunity to learn more about other parts of the business, and encourage more empathy across the board. But the truth is, most teams aren’t natural collaborators.

Without the right structures in place to help your people to connect, some initiatives could run the risk of falling flat. For example, your marketing department is aiming to enhance the company’s brand with new content but doesn’t consult with the sales or customer service teams. If the marketing team isn’t fully aware of the unique pain points of their customers, the message most likely won’t resonate. Although this is just one instance, a collaboration problem could lead to more detrimental results.

Lean Tip #2650 – Emphasize Soft Skills

Unfortunately, these vital competencies are often de-emphasized in corporate environments. Even the name “soft skills” makes them seem relatively unnecessary, “These skills are not ‘soft’ – they’re highly complex, take years to learn, and are always changing in their scope.”

Businesses are a collection of human beings working together, so building core relationship skills, like the ability to collaborate and communicate, is one of the most important things that a company can encourage.

Lean Tip #2651 – Streamline Communications by Creating a “Talk To” List

One of the key tenets of how to be a better communicator involves getting organized. Instead of shooting your co-worker an email every time you need an answer, try to save all of your questions for one communication—whether that’s in a conversation or an email.

To help organize and consolidate your thoughts, create a ‘talk to’ list for that person. As you think of things you need to communicate, create tasks that start with his or her name, along with whatever you need to say.

Lean Tip #2652 – Ask Open-Ended Questions

Good communication isn’t just about expressing yourself; it’s also about asking the right kind of questions so you’re able to receive information as successfully as you deliver it.

One of the simplest ways to improve your communication skills is to ask open-ended questions. These are questions that begin with who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Let’s face it—questions that only require yes/no answers aren’t going to tell you much. But asking questions that begin with the five “w”s gives the person you’re talking to the chance to share his or her knowledge with you.

The trick is to be prepared to listen to the answers and ask the next questions based on those answers until both parties are clear on the next steps or actions to take.

That’s when you’re really engaging in effective office communication.

Lean Tip #2653 – Only Promise To Do Things If You Can Actually Do Them

In some ways, being a “yes man” can serve you well in your career, but it’s easy to slip into the “I need to please everyone” mode and get overwhelmed. Bite off only as much as you can chew at one time.

Remember that age-old adage: Actions speak louder than words. Be consistent in doing what you say and saying what you do.

If you say you’re going to finish a PowerPoint presentation by Friday, do it. If you can’t do it, don’t commit. It’s better to say no to something upfront than fail to complete the assignment.

This is critical in business because you gain credibility, trust and respect on the job.

Lean Tip #2654 – Give Positive Feedback

Don't ever underestimate the power of positive feedback. We are quick to point out to someone when they make a mistake. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge them when they do something right. Giving positive feedback can be a powerful tool for employee motivation.

Lean Tip #2655 – Disagree Without Being Disagreeable

Many managers and companies fail because they rely too heavily on the people like them and screen out those who disagree with them. That's why many people surround themselves with people who agree with them, think like them, and support them. When your company culture allows people to challenge ideas, suggestions, and plans, you create an organization of thinking, committed people. If your company culture does not allow dissent you produce an environment of fear. Not allowing appropriate dissent will kill your company.

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