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Monday, April 18, 2022

Lean Tips Edition #186 (#3001-#3015)

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 #3001 – Bring a Solution

Managers should encourage employees that come with problems to also propose a few solutions that they think might work. Once these are discussed, managers can offer guidance into how to proceed, but managers shouldn’t be the ones that will automatically come up with solutions to all problems, every time.

Lean Tip #3002 – Encourage Transparency of Ideas

This is not just limited to ideas and way of working but applies to ensuring people feel free to talk about their failures and how they found their way out. This culture of sharing will not just invite more people to speak up but will also enforce the feeling of being safe to try and fail. Transparency is also about trade-offs. Sometimes failure happens because of limited resources – time, money, people. Ask after each failure what compromises were made and how the employee made those decisions. The whole business can learn so much out from the experience and the journey that led to an event, not just from its outcome. It’s also an excellent way to learn from other’s mistakes, if you are aware of what happened, why it happened and understands what’s working and what is not.

Lean Tip #3003 – Eliminate Drama and Penalties for Failure

Failure should be encouraged and accepted as is. Any negative emotions associated with failure should be avoided, as should penalties of any kind. Even a bad word from a manager can discourage further innovation. Of course, managers and teams should have contingency plans for failure, but also having an honest and open, blame-free culture helps to build all this.

Lean Tip #3004 – Understand What Went Wrong

You need to know why failures really happen. The answer will be different in each organization, but every company needs to gain a better overview of where the problems lie that keep them from learning from failure. The key thing to keep in mind is this is not about avoiding failure; it’s about how can we learn from failure and apply that into future processes. The challenge is to create a common understanding in which failure is seen as a learning opportunity that holds the potential to make the organization smarter and better.

Lean Tip #3005 – Reward behaviors, not just outcomes.

Too often, organizations are too focused on rewarding the outcomes of their employees. It is just very difficult to reward the team of people in charge of a failed project or initiative, but then what do you do when the learnings the team captured and shared leads to great success in the future? Should these people not be rewarded and recognized in some way? If you really want to change a corporate culture, you must find ways to reward the behavioral changes that lead to the desired outcomes. If not, you might not get there at all.

Lean Tip #3006 – Engage Employees by Providing Them With the Tools for Success.

As a manager, you not only have to oversee different facets of business, but you should be sure your employees understand what they are doing. Training within their specific job descriptions can offer them more confidence in what they’re doing. When one of your team members is unsure of what to do, or how to handle a situation, productivity can come to a grinding halt while they try to troubleshoot the situation. If it becomes too overwhelming, there is a possibility of a small hitch becoming a much larger problem. Even if additional coaching or training is needed, providing your employees with a strong foundation for the tasks ahead is a good step towards raising their level of engagement.

Lean Tip #3007 – Encourage Teamwork Among Employees.

There is a reason that people flock to team sports. When a group of people pulls together to win the big game, it often comes an infectious feeling that engulfs everyone around them—from teammates to the fans—the sense of camaraderie and success spreads to the masses. The same can be said for the workplace environment. When a large account or significant client needs your services, developing a strong team of employees gives them a sense of greater purpose. Pulling them together to work towards a big company goal can be incredibly satisfying, and allows them to bounce ideas off each other to ultimately meet the needs of your client. It adds a sense of cooperation, consideration, and confidence in not only each other but in the company, itself.

Lean Tip #3008 – Listen To and Act on Employee Feedback.

Listening to what your customers have to say is important, but so is listening to your employees. Having regular meetings to determine what areas of your workplace environment need improvement is an important part of keeping the employees engaged with the company. By using a company survey, or even a monthly meeting, giving your staff a voice is vital in making them feel like part of the company. If there is a situation within the internal workings of the company that goes unnoticed or unaddressed by management, it sends an unfavorable message to your staff. If they know that management cares, and hears their concerns, they will continue to maintain a high level of engagement instead of becoming despondent and disengaged.

Lean Tip #3009 – Motivate, Inspire and Coach Your Employees.

Not only should your employees understand the scope of their work, but as their manager, so should you. Creating a positive workplace environment starts with happy employees, but doesn’t end there. The tone is set by the managerial staff from the beginning, and a good way to achieve a positive tone is to be more than their boss; be the best coach they could have. If you see an employee struggling with a task, approach them to see if you can help in any way. Whether it is a pat on the back and words of encouragement urging them to keep trying or offering guidance on policy and procedure, they will see your willingness to help as a concern for their state of mind, as well as the company’s success. Many individuals throughout history who’ve been praised for outstanding accomplishments have had a good coach or mentor standing behind them. Be that coach for your employees.

Lean Tip #3010 – Encourage Employee Personal Development.

Many times, the people who work for any given business only do so out of the necessity of a paycheck. Companies who retain employees with specific skill sets aren’t likely to face this issue. However, it still could ring true to some individuals on the staff. As you get to know your employees, you may learn about their personal hobbies and interests, even as far as learning what it is they eventually want to do with their lives. Think about the company and the different areas it may specialize in. Is there a better place for this employee to apply these additional skills? Does one of the secretaries have a love of graphic design? Maybe a warehouse worker desires to do more by upgrading his education to better serve the company as a distribution manager. Helping these employees reach a place within the company not only helps to encourage their development but allows you to retain them on staff in a capacity in which they could elevate their levels of engagement.

Lean Tip #3011 – Support Team Learning Company-Wide

There has to be a company-wide commitment to education. A learning organization must have many opportunities for sharing knowledge and creating productive discussions. The most important part of team learning is having a supportive and positive learning environment. Employees should feel comfortable taking risks to try new ideas and possibly achieve significant improvements. People should also be supported if they struggle to understand new data or processes. Learning can only happen in a positive environment.

Lean Tip #3012 – Create a Shared Vision Across the Entire Enterprise

Shared vision is the active process of aligning the company’s mission with individual mental models. Essentially, it’s about helping employees recognize and align themselves with the vision managers have for the organization. Managers help people understand what they need to do and why they need to do it, which helps the employee support the learning organizational model. Creating a shared vision across an entire organization can sometimes require debate internally about who you are and where you’re going together.

Lean Tip #3013 – Make Learning an Everyday Habit

Many of us have a common perception that once we leave the schools and get our degrees, we need not continue pursuing other learnings. That’s a very wrong thinking as we no longer live in a world where we can assume that learning is fixed for one’s trade. There are continuous innovations in every field changing the way we do our daily works. Continuous learning can help an individual to stay sharp, relevant in his or her field as well as stay ahead in the competition. Also, building this learning attitude is not a difficult or time-consuming task.

Lean Tip #3014 – Reward Employees for Learning

Rewarding employees for accepting a positive learning culture can be one of the methods to encourage the staff to develop and grow. However, there is no guarantee that rewards can bring in change unless these are effective. Some of the ideas for creating training rewards for employees includes demonstrating the value of training to the employees, creating opportunities like representing the organization in a conference after completion of course, bringing a healthy competition among the peers taking the training, creating reward system for those training that bring in maximum ROI for the organization as well as employees and finally rewarding the employees who completed the course on a public stage to motivate other employees as well.

Lean Tip #3015 – Train the Managers to Coach Effectively

Coaching is one of the greatest methods to build an employee’s confidence level as well as competence. Managers need to know how to apply the right blend of “clarity coaching” and “skills coaching” to their employees, two of the critical elements that organizations need to provide to their managers while training them. Having the ability to coach others is one of the core skills in the 21st century, required by every manager to be regarded as a successful leader. Long gone are those days where the managers used to command and control leadership in order to get their work done. Today, the most effective way for the managers to lead is through coaching and collaboration. If the managers are not skilled enough to coach their employees, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to achieve positive results for the organization or even themselves in the long term.


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