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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #164 (#2670 - 2685)

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 #2671 – Outline a Clear Team Vision for Your Frontline Employees.

Your frontline employees are your direct connection to your customers and potential customers – they’re the ones who are in direct contact with those customers, and need to be able to understand your organization’s ambitions and goals in order to provide superb customer service experiences for everyone they interact with. However, many times, frontline employees feel as though they’re disconnected from corporate – they don’t always feel as though corporate understands them, or that they’re really linked in with what’s happening at corporate headquarters.

Investing in training and helping your frontline employees to really understand what your corporate vision is, what your brand means, and how they can assist with achieving company goals is a great way to motivate your frontline employees.

Lean Tip #2672 – Create a Sense of Purpose Around the Customer.

To build a genuine sense of purpose and meaning, the employees in the experiment stores were taught how to connect every product, process, and policy to the benefit and impact they had on customers. If they couldn’t connect an action to a customer outcome, they were taught that it was safe to ask questions until they understood.

Lean Tip #2673 – Value Employee Opinions

Don’t stop at collecting feedback regularly. Many frontline workers have great suggestions to improve the experience they offer their end-users and colleagues. If someone has a good idea, implement it.

Even if management decides an idea is not feasible, it’s important to communicate the reasons behind the decision to the frontline worker. This lets them know that, while you will not be going forward with their idea, it was at least heard and considered. The worst thing you can do is ask for feedback and go completely silent as to its progress. When this happens, workers feel as if they’re sending their ideas into the ether, never to be heard of again.

Lean Tip #2674 – Listen and Empower

Coaching requires both encouragement and empowerment. As a manager and a leader, your job is to build one-on-one relationships with employees that result in improved performance.

Your employees are likely to have a lot of input, questions, and feedback. It’s important for them to know you care enough to listen to what they have to say, so encourage them to share their opinions.

Some employees will have no problem speaking their mind, while others will need a LOT of encouragement before they share an opinion with you openly. Once they do open up, be sure to respect those opinions by discussing them, rather than dismissing them.

Lean Tip #2675 – Make Employees Part of Customer Experience.

Frontline employees have some truly impactful insights about customer wants and needs, and whether a company is meeting them. Make it known to employees that they are welcomed to share these insights and give them a path to follow in order to do so, whether that’s directly through their manager or another channel. Also, share regular updates related to the customer experience such as progress made towards organizational goals or new initiatives being launched. That way, everyone is invested and on the same page.

Lean Tip #2676 – Make Employee Satisfaction a Priority To Improve Customer Satisfaction

Simply put, when your employees are happy, they can provide better customer service. Studies have proven that employees often perform better at the jobs when they feel appreciated. Give each employee a personalized ‘thank you’ every now and then, and introduce an employee of the month program, if you don’t have one already. If you can help your employees take pride in their jobs, their work performance will also improve.

Lean Tip #2677 – Empower Employees to Solve Problems on Their Own

Hiring problem-solvers does you no good if you don’t empower them to actually solve the problems that come their way.

Every company has rules, but beware of creating such a rigid structure that your employees can’t deliver good service. Whenever possible, give your team the leeway to solve a customer’s problem within guidelines you’ve created. Empower them with the authority and flexibility to find creative or alternative solutions to issues when they arise, without having to get your sign-off on every little thing.

Lean Tip #2678 – Be an Optimistic Problem Solver.

Frankly, one of the great tests of someone’s positive attitude is whether they focus on problems or solutions.  As Henry Ford once said,

If you think that you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right!

In the context of solving problems this is a very important issue as a pessimistic attitude will hold you back from finding solutions and will probably make you cynical about other people’s efforts as well.

The next time a problem comes your way, don’t sigh and wait for the world to come to an end, immediately understand that there is a solution out there and it’s your exciting job to find it.

Lean Tip #2679 – When Solving Problems Put Aside Time to Think. 

One of the restrictions to effective problem solving is time.  In our busy days, it is easier and quicker to rant about a problem and come up with a knee-jerk reaction rather than consider a well thought out plan that may stop more problems from occurring in the future.

Steven Covey calls this the “Important/Non-urgent” time that we really should be scheduling into our diaries so that we can spend time coming up with creative solutions.

Brainstorming with others can be a helpful component of this, but don’t fall into the trap of just organizing another meeting if you don’t have a clear outcome that you are after.

Lean Tip #2680 – Celebrate When a Solution Has Been Found. 

We don’t do this just to pat ourselves on the back.  Celebrating can be a great way of consolidating a culture of focusing on solutions rather than problems.  It doesn’t have to be an extravagant celebration, but doing something positive to reinforce behavior and feelings that you want to experience again assist in creating new habits that are much more resourceful and solutions focused.

Lean Tip #2681 - Create Coaching and Mentoring Opportunities

One of the best ways to develop future leaders is by having them learn directly from other successful leaders. Once you’ve identified candidates that could potentially be great leaders, match them up with a great leader to mentor them, coach them, and consistently provide feedback. A mentor can provide customized guidance that helps prepare junior employees to become more effective leaders in the future. Building these strong relationships early creates opportunities for open, honest lines of communication throughout the leadership development process.

Lean Tip #2682 – Use Job Rotation to Broaden Experience

Give your workers a chance to broaden their expertise by working in different parts of the company. This will allow you and them to discover both their strengths and the areas where they need additional training. It will also give them an appreciation of other roles that will be beneficial in managing others in those areas.

Lean Tip #2683 - Provide “Stretch” Assignments for Employees

Offer a chance for your employees to prove themselves while also cultivating new talents. Providing assignments that stretch them outside of their comfort zone will force them to learn to better manage stress and tap into their creativity and problem solving abilities. Even failure can provide valuable lessons that can better your team.

Lean Tip #2684 - Invest in Your Team’s Education

Top leaders are typically people who have a commitment to learning and development, and who are continually looking for ways to expand their skills and knowledge. As such, if you want your current workers to become the best leaders possible, it’s wise to invest time and money into their education. While you can leave learning up to them, you’ll find that they develop much more quickly if you aid them in this area, and show you’re willing to invest in them.

Lean Tip #2685 - Offer Opportunities for Leadership Development

Incorporate developing future leaders as part of your firm’s business strategy. Come up with a leadership plan that details all the steps that an employee needs to go through from one level to the other. Let every employee benefit from the experience he or she receives while keeping in mind that formal training can be of great help too. When offering chances for your workers to express what they have in various roles, ensure that they have access to guidance and support that they require to give better performance.


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