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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Lean Tips Edition #184 (#2971-#2985)

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 #2971 – Ask For Innovation

Almost everything we do can be done better, faster, and smarter. Even the most routine tasks are open to innovation. A best practice to hone your listening skills is to ask for ideas. Managers often worry when they ask for ideas, they’ll get silly or impractical answers. But even these are an opportunity to help workers stretch their critical thinking skills.

When a employee makes a suggestion that won’t work, rather than dismissing it out of hand, talk them through the process. In addition to actively listening, you’re helping them develop problem-solving skills that might lead to practical innovations in the future.

Lean Tip #2972 - Listening Speeds Up Work

When you and your employees listen to each other regarding how to best accomplish tasks, the work proceeds at a faster rate. Taking this step helps help improve clarity and maintain focus during the task at hand. To help her staff understand the important of good listening, you could provide examples in which active listening either helped or hindered a project.

Lean Tip #2973 – Listening Causes Less “Do-Overs”

Good listeners learn from what is being said so they are able to use the information at work without making mistakes. When someone does not listen well, however, comprehension is reduced and the production process is likely to slow. According to studies, employers should first illustrate the relevance of what they are going to say to the employee before it is said to increase his motivation.

For example, explain first that he will be expected to use a new machine that day following your verbal instructions. This heads-up will help guarantee his undivided attention while you speak.

Lean Tip #2974 – Listening Helps You Better Understand Reality

Listening gives you knowledge and insights into the day-to-day reality of your employees. It is the best way to understand their needs. It’s essential to create an atmosphere of trust and encourage your coworkers to speak openly about their daily challenges. You might be surprised at how different their reality is from your perception of it.

Lean Tip #2975 – Listening Builds Trust

When higher management does not hear the employees’ views and ideas, it fuels employees’ resentment and lowers productivity. Proper feedback and actively considering the employees’ views and ideas are vital for a healthy workplace and performance. Having said that, it is also important to assure that the internal communication is solid, only then they can develop a culture of mutual trust and understanding. It is always a two-way process.

Lean Tip #2976 – Show Gratitude, Not Judgement

When people share their idea or opinions, avoid making snap judgements and/or criticizing what they say. It takes courage to be able to express oneself, and no one should be persecuted for doing so. No matter how much you may disagree with what they say, thank them for sharing their thoughts.

Lean Tip #2977 – Try to See Things From Different Perspectives

This is about focusing on making sure that you understand the other person’s perspective and looking at things from a unique point of view. When you are open-minded about something, you will understand other people’s opinions and beliefs better. In fact, this skill can really help you better handle relationships with others.

Lean Tip #2978 – Be Willing to be Wrong Occasionally

Being open-minded means that you must be willing to accept that you may have been wrong or that someone else’s point of view is different from yours. By being open-minded, you can be in a better position to understand why and how you were wrong about something.

Lean Tip #2979 – Ask Lots of Questions

Don’t just assume you know what the other person meant, why the situation happened or what must be done in a certain case. You might gain superior understanding and make better decisions if you avoid speculation but inquire others and accept different perspectives — just make sure you don’t intrude by asking too much and being too eager.

Lean Tip #2980 – Practice Your Listening Skills

Make sure to let your colleagues or employees know that you are there to hear them out and actually care about what they have to say. Don’t rebuke suggestions from the start, instead offer other options and explain why, despite their opinions, things will take another course. But if they offer valid insight, take it and apply it to the situation at hand. Everyone must feel comfortable at work and empowered to speak their own minds.

Lean Tip #2981 – Link Financial Resources With Strategy

Align finances with the plan. Few other missteps create more setbacks than failing to match spending to strategic priorities. This linkage should be done immediately and sustained through every budget cycle going forward during implementation.

Without the tools to make your strategic initiatives a success, your strategic objectives will stall—and so will your overall plan. Work to structure your budget around the key components of your strategy, creating direct linkages between how your resources are allocated and how those efforts support your goals. As your strategy unfolds, be flexible; changing strategic initiatives may require shifting emphasis on the people, processes, and systems that support them.

Lean Tip #2982 – Set a Deadline You Can’t Miss

Deadlines spur action—it’s just that simple. Add a sense of urgency to your strategy by attaching reasonable target due dates to every initiative you implement. Stick to them as much as possible to avoid the sense that they are flexible. Reviewing your strategy regularly will help keep you on track to these bigger deadlines.

Lean Tip #2983 – Make Decisions as a Team & Share Lessons

Have open, honest, candid, and direct conversations that are tough on the issues and respectful of the people. Decisions made in the room must be publicly supported outside the room. No pocket vetoes, and if decisions need to be reconsidered, they must be brought back to the team.

Rapidly share lessons that are uncovered in success or failure—support and encourage telling the truth about execution without being executed.

Where possible, be transparent about what you’re trying to achieve. Transparency generates buy-in, and you need an entire organization bought-in to generate positive change. Not every decision can be democratic, but taking the time to explain the rationale behind the strategy shows respect for your employees. It’s also crucial for getting them to engage with the plan, and do their best to carry it out.

Lean Tip #2984 – Make Sure Your Goals are Actionable and Measurable

Make sure your strategy contains actionable, measurable items to determine progress. Many organizations set objectives by following the SMART framework. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

·        Specific means narrowing your efforts to focus on exactly what you need to get done, and how it will link back to the organization’s overall strategy.

·        Measurable means defining the metrics you’ll use to determine if the goal has been met. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are often used as measures, and are tracked regularly.

·        Attainable means making sure your goals are feasible considering your organization’s capabilities and resources. We recommend looking at your historical data to determine if your goal is in the realm of possibility.

·        Relevant means making sure your goals align with your organization’s mission and vision.

·        Timely refers to creating a realistic, time-bound goal that defines achievements and target dates for completion. 

Lean Tip #2985 – Constantly Monitor if the Plan is Working 

Reporting on strategy progress isn’t something you do once or twice a year; checking in so infrequently makes it difficult to react if your plan isn’t working for any reason. To make your strategic plan stick, leadership teams should meet monthly or quarterly to look at the latest data, and discuss adjustments or course-corrections if necessary. Such strategy meetings keep your strategic objectives at the center of the management process, and ensure you fully execute on projects.


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