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Friday, June 30, 2023

Lean Quote: Change is Inevitable so Lead for Success

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Change is inevitable. Change is constant.  —  Benjamin Disraeli 

Over 100 years ago, Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister, said: “Change is inevitable. In a progressive country change is constant.” The same can be said for business.

The success of an organization depends increasingly on its ability to adjust quickly to new situations. New trends, regulations, and fierce competition force companies to make major organizational changes in order to remain competitive.

Too often, the company makes the change too late – after they start losing money, market, and cash flow, and funds for the necessary investment are no longer available. Good reasons and timing for change cannot guarantee immunity from pitfalls, such as employee resistance, confusion, and excessive cost.

There are seven aspects of leading change that should be considered if you want success:

Careful Planning
Careful planning saves time and money. Chances for success improve with a well-prepared disclosure and good communication; with careful weighing of potential resistance and its consequences; with a detailed timetable for execution.

Employee resistance is often self-defense, and fear of losing security, power, or status. To offset such fears discuss potential new career paths, the necessity and advantages of different positions, the reason for the change; and show appreciation for loyalty. Some employee lack self-confidence and consider and change a threat. Teaching, training, and full support are good remedies.

Good communication is vital. Reasons for the change must be explained beforehand. Clear communication is the best investment, since resistance id often due to mis-interpretation, half-information, and rumors that precede the change. Easy-to-understand written and verbal communication should reach all levels of the organization.

When employees get seriously involved, the situation becomes easier. It’s not “us” and “them” (management). The sooner people are involved in the plan, the more they become involved. Those on board early are supportive and spread the word. This prevents rumors and the build-up of resistance.

Credibility of management, based on past experience plays a key role. Where trust is lacking, problems multiply. The best remedy is honest information and better communication. These are stepping stones to future trust.

In spite of the best efforts, some resistance may remain. It's far better to anticipate objections than to spend your time putting out fires, and knowing how to overcome resistance to change is a vital part of any change management plan.

Once everything is prepared and in place, execution should be fast. A D-day must be set to introduce the new organization. Postponement is not recommended, even if there is a last-minute problem.

Organizational change must be well thought out beforehand. Success depends on communication, motivation, education, and involvement.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Lean Roundup #169 – June, 2023

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of June 2023.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.  


What Are Mistakes? Why Do We Make Them? – Mark Graban shares excerpt from his book The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation.


Win-Win Case-in-Point Study – Christopher Chapman talks about how our prevailing ways of thinking about figures can mislead us into drawing the wrong conclusions.


The First Shingo Prize – Bruce Hamilton recalls the beginnings of a great movement and the first Shingo Prize.


The Power of Creativity in Process Improvement Projects – John Knotts says infusing creative thinking into process improvement projects, organizations can unlock innovative solutions, enhance efficiency, and drive remarkable results.


What Is Continuous Improvement? - Danielle Yoon discusses everything you need to know to improve your workplace.


Training Within Industry—Second-Line Supervisor Job Instructions – Christopher Roser talks about a tool to support and guide the shop floor supervisors on how to use job instructions.


6 Solutions for Overcoming Improvement Challenges - Brittany Currier explores six practical solutions for overcoming continuous improvement challenges.


Transforming our business with Daily Management - Adriana Carneiro and Robson Gouveia discuss how Supergasbras was able to change its trajectory and add more value to the customer in a critical sector for society by leveraging Daily Management.


An Irrational Fear – Bob Emiliani removes the fear by highlighting key points Lean teaches.



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Monday, June 26, 2023

Lean Tips Edition #205 (#3286 - #3300)

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 #3286 – Reward Employees For Their Hard Work

Creating a well-rounded recognition program will take time and energy, but the payoff can mean the difference between stressed and burnt-out employees or a company culture built around engaged employees who feel appreciated beyond their paycheck.

From spot bonuses to anniversary gifts and beyond, these reward opportunities fuel a healthy team dynamic. Rewards offer your employees a chance to rejuvenate outside the office by indulging in a passion, trying something new, or challenging their comfort zones.

Lean Tip #3287 – Greet Your Team

A little hello goes a long way in the workplace. Your team members want to feel and be happy, so give them a little nudge in the morning with a big old smile that says, “I’m happy you are here and I want you to love your job.”

Pop around the office periodically and see how everyone is doing. Ask your team how their weekend was, and check in to see if anyone needs assistance with ongoing projects.

Something as simple as a smile, a token of your appreciation, or a “Good morning!” can be enough to turn anyone’s bad day right around. Being upbeat and genuine in your approach boosts your team’s self-esteem, causing them to be more motivated and reminds them that working with you is pretty great.

Lean Tip #3288 – Make Work Fulfilling

Everyone wants to feel like what they’re doing at work matters.

In order for team members to feel good about the work they are producing, they need to fully understand the company’s mission and purpose. So, it’s your job to make sure they know what that looks like.

Give a rundown of what each department does and why they do it. When employees see the inner-workings of the organization from all angles and perspectives, they feel better connected to the business and therefore more committed to making it a success.

Lean Tip #3289 – Refrain from Micromanaging

Employees who feel trusted and supported, without being hovered over, are statistically more relaxed and confident in the job they do.

I think it’s safe to say that not one working person likes to be micromanaged. If employees feel like they are constantly on their boss’s radar, they are not going to perform the way they normally would, and they will begin to resent their job.

It doesn’t help anyone if half the day is spent recording and reporting what tasks were checked off and which ones weren’t, so, give your team the trust and creative freedom that they deserve by setting clear expectations and fair boundaries.

You are the one who hired your irreplaceable team members. Remember why you hired them and trust that they will make the right decisions without your hovering. Doing so will keep their confidence high, further contributing to the success of your business.

Let a team member lead the next marketing meeting, and give team members the go-ahead to make executive decisions when you aren’t around.

Lean Tip #3290 – Deliver Praise and Recognition Often

Were you aware that feeling underappreciated at work is the #1 reason Americans leave their jobs? Number one! Beating out low salary, limited vacation days and not enough flexibility for life outside of work.

A statistic as powerful as that one needs to be front of mind for managers and leaders.

By offering consistent praise and recognition, your team will be excited and eager to contribute to company-wide initiatives.

Ask team members how they want to be recognized for a job well done. Send out a quick email or commence a team huddle to get their feedback on how they prefer to be recognized or complimented when and where credit is due. For some, it may be a quick “You did it!” shout-out during a meeting. For others, it might be a one-on-one positive feedback session.

The key is to be consistent. If a team member deserves to be recognized for outstanding work, tell them right away: Don’t wait for their “review.” The days of annual reviews are ancient history.

Lean Tip #3291 – Allow for Employee Autonomy

By giving employees autonomy to do their job, you are letting them know that you trust and value them. When your employees enter the workplace, it's to do a job. So, let them do it. You don't need to micromanage people. A recent study found that the higher levels of autonomy a worker experienced, the higher their sense of job satisfaction and well being. The more you allow them to be autonomous, the more productive they become. If an employee is regularly required to get permission to complete tasks or finalize jobs, they won't learn to make important decisions on their own.

Lean Tip #3292 – Assist Your Team Members in Reaching Goals

Setting goals is a good way to hold yourself accountable. Not everyone is adept at setting goals, however. Make sure that you are encouraging your team members to not only set realistic, obtainable goals but also to be specific with those goals. What you don't want are vague goals like " I want to increase sales." Instead, try something like "I want to increase sales by 25% in the next three months." You want to ensure that employees are setting realistic timelines for meeting their goals.

If they don't give themselves enough time, it could cause increased stress, resulting in decreased productivity. On the other hand, offering too much time to reach a goal will not create the momentum needed to increase productivity and success. If team members reach their goals early or better yet exceed their goals, you could celebrate by doing something special for them. Once goals have been reached, it's time to set new ones and start all over again.

Lean Tip #3293 – Encourage Relationships Among Coworkers

When you establish comradery within the office, you'll have fewer employees missing work, and the environment will be pleasant for everyone. If you have certain employees that just don't mesh well together, it's not a bad thing to allow them to work in different departments or areas of the office. You want to make coming in to work enjoyable, and if people are working with their friends, they will feel better about showing up each day.

Even the boss or supervisor should have a good relationship with their employees. You don't want them to hear dead silence the minute they walk into the room. Encourage them to talk with employees about their personal lives, ask them questions about their family, and incorporate laughter or humor in some way. These are great ways to help people feel comfortable talking to their boss.

Lean Tip #3294 – Develop a Routine that Works for You

Workplace efficiency doesn’t just exist in the office – your daily routine can have a huge impact on how you work. Remote workers, hybrid workers and office devotees should all have a good daily routine that inspires productivity. One way of encouraging this is by introducing a flexible workplace so your employees can strike the right balance between themselves and their work.

Your morning routine isn’t just about the basics of grabbing your coffee, brushing your teeth and flying out the door: it’s about creating sustainable habits that set you up for the day. So you’re not a morning person? Lay out your things the night before so you can enjoy an extra 5 minutes in bed before diving into a productive day. Maybe you like to start your morning with a bang – a quick run before your morning shower, an early-morning gym session or some energizing yoga can nourish your mind-body connection before you head to the office.

Embrace your lunchtime stroll, your mid-afternoon coffee break and your go-to commute podcast – all of these things can bring you joy in your personal life, leading to efficiency in the workplace.

Lean Tip #3295 – Strive for Progress Over Perfection

Everyone seeks perfection—but no one ever attains it. One of the most important things to remember when trying to improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace is that nothing can ever be perfect. Holding yourself and your employees to unattainable standards is demoralizing, stress-inducing and impractical.

Part of the working world is embracing setbacks and challenges without letting them overwhelm you. If employees are constantly striving for perfection, they will never have a healthy understanding of success and will, therefore, struggle with their work efficiency.

Progress is far more important than perfection – embrace feedback from your colleagues and help them to do the same. Without the weight of perfectionism around our necks, we are much less likely to procrastinate and far more likely to achieve something great.

Lean Tip #3296 – Set Benchmarks and Goals

The best way to set your company up to prosper, continually grow, and exceed customers’ expectations is to set benchmarks, targets for teams to achieve until the ultimate goal is met. Part of the business planning process is breaking down big, major goals into smaller projects and tasks so they can be completed in a timely manner. Remember, responsible business process management is always mindful of all the key players. So, when setting goals and yardsticks for your team, be sure to involve them. Be sure that everything you’re setting for them is doable and realistic.

Lean Tip #3297 – Plan for Success

To maximize your opportunities for business process optimization, create a review team assembled of people from various departments in the company. Their invaluable input will help shape your new processes into plans that will map out the road to success for your company. The main question the team should be asking is: “How can we change things to make us work faster, better, and more effective? Be sure to get input and views from all sides so no team or department is left out. Whatever new processes you come up with should work for everyone in the company. That’s the only way to guarantee long-term success.

Lean Tip #3298 – Target Quality Improvement

The customer may not always be right but a happy customer means they will always choose to spend their money on your company. If you want to create loyal customers and broaden your reach through word of mouth and buyer influence, make the quality of your team’s output one of your focuses. Make sure that everyone in the company understands that quality is not the responsibility of a select few such as the customer-facing teams. Quality is a team effort and this involves everyone in the company. If one link in the chain is weak or breaks, for example, a customer follow-up to a supplier is not closed in time, you can potentially lose repeat business, which means the company, will be at a loss too.

Lean Tip #3299 – Carefully Analyze What Needs to Change

Nearly every process has some form of waste hidden in it, i.e., things that don’t add value. Your primary objective is to identify and eliminate them within your processes to save time and produce better outcomes. This can be overproduction, sitting inventory and defects due to incomplete or inaccurate information.

Consider the following questions to identify the waste within your processes and build a thorough process improvement plan:

  • Which issues are creating problems for your customers or team members?
  • Which steps are creating bottlenecks?
  • Is there any underlying reason behind the increase in costs or decline in quality?
  • Which steps require the most time to complete or cause the most delays? 

Your best bet is to reach out to people directly affected by the process and ask them what they think is wrong and the improvements they suggest.

Lean Tip #3300 – Continuously Monitor Progress

After implementing a process improvement methodology, be sure to monitor progress using applicable process improvement metrics or KPIs.

This way, you can hold staff accountable for the agreed-upon productivity and quality standards and determine whether the implemented changes are helping improve outcomes. Daily monitoring also simplifies implementing changes to improve performance faster as well as fine-tune processes and workflows based on performance comparison to departmental goals.

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Friday, June 23, 2023

Lean Quote: Leaders Focus on Solutions, Followers Focus on Problems

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.  —  Brian Tracy  

Do you want to lead a team of individuals in the future? Ask yourself, do you wish to lead with just nagging about the problems, or do you wish to have problem solutions?

There is a big difference between the leaders who count on personal achievements and those that count on group achievements. Real leadership encompasses:

  • Leaders are more focused on the solution.
  • Self-awareness and self-confidence sums up a leader.
  • Leaders work as a team and not as an individual.
  • Humbleness differentiates a leader and a follower.
  • A leader has to be proactive and initiate problem-solving.

Let us look at some of the main elements as to what qualities a leader must-have.

Sense of Effective Direction

Leaders are the individuals that direct the whole organization and businesses as per their experience and knowledge. They know where to move on to and immediately work on it. If any problem is faced, they are the first ones to resolve it and set ahead.

Goal-Oriented – Leaders Lead, and Followers Follow

Keeping an eye always for the goal can turn out to be the most crucial quality. As you want to achieve the heights of success in your industry, you need to maintain and achieve time on time.

Provide Problem Solutions and Work on Them

When you develop yourself as a leader, everybody will look up to you to get solutions to their problems. Leadership is like an encouragement that people need from you. So, you will not only help others, but also you will encourage them to get out of the problems quickly.

Believe in Yourself First and let Followers Lead

When you can help others and inspire them, you will have a new kind of satisfaction in yourself. Believe in yourself first, then you’ll be able to make your team believe in achieving the set goal. Allow them to speak up and be a good listener as well. Free them to take up their own decisions, and some might come up with great solutions.

A leader doesn’t bush around the problems they come up with. They simply work on the solutions. Whereas followers only think of the problems they are facing. The larger goal is far away from their vision, because of that they can’t come up with problem solutions.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure

Many people shy away from failure. There’s constant wonder and worry about what will happen to an individual when they fail, especially in their place of work. However, celebrating failure can and often brings unexpected success. I want to share a TedTalk by the Head of X (formerly Google X), Astro Teller, where he introduces the “Moonshot Factory” where his team works to solve the world’s biggest problems, and celebrates failure as a necessity for success.

Here are a few tips from today’s TedTalk:

  • Run at the most challenging parts of the problem at hand first. Failures will often lead you to the path of success.
  • Shift your perspective. Sometimes shifting your perspective is more powerful than being smart or right.
  • Encourage the path of least resistance. Make it a safe space to fail and reward and celebrate failures. This can come in the form of hugs, high-fives, applause, promotions, or even bonuses.

Encouraging teams to take on only the most ambitious projects and allowing them to fail at them is what leads to profoundly amazing things. At X, that means celebrating teams that kill their good projects. These teams are applauded, literally, in front of the rest of the organization. They receive bonuses and vacations for recognizing that their project will fail to be great. And for newcomers to X, this can all seem a little odd.

But as a leader, Teller considers himself a “culture engineer” and believes strongly in the power of social norms. Creating a set of social norms that promote psychological safety is key to getting the best from your team. Teller said that most teams “don't think it's safe to tell you that the business plan that you asked them to make isn't really great. It's just good. Wouldn't that be amazing if they would actually tell you that, because you don't want them working on something that's good but not great. You want to unleash them, but you have to know first. And you're not operationally enough in the details to even know. They're the only people who really know.”

I hope that this TedTalk inspires you to celebrate your failures and to create an environment that encourages the path of least resistance. 

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Monday, June 19, 2023

Personal Habits All Leaders Should Nurture

Image Source: Pexels.com

Only 21% of respondents in a recent Gallup survey strongly agreed with the statement that they trusted the leadership in their organization. And 34% strongly agreed their manager creates a trusting and open environment.

These numbers are incredibly low considering the ultimate goal is for every employee to trust leaders, be inspired by them, and feel they can trust and communicate openly with supervisors. Great leadership can produce high-performing employees who are engaged and energized in their roles.

Becoming an outstanding leader requires you to intentionally develop your skills in the workplace while also prioritizing personal habits that support your growth. If leaders adopt these habits, their abilities in the workplace and impact on employees will improve drastically.

Learn to Communicate Effectively

You must communicate effectively with people if you want to have a lasting positive impact on them.

Communication helps you discover pertinent things about your employees, like the accommodations they need to work effectively, how their personal life impacts them, and how they feel about their role. Effective communication is also critical for ensuring team and individual tasks and projects are completed and workplace productivity persists.

You can practice effective communication in your relationships and bring what you learn to work with you. For example, let’s say you and your spouse disagree. You’re able to work it out after actively listening to their concerns, validating them, and coming up with a solution that works for both of you.

You can use the same framework in any disagreements you have with your employees or in the ones they have with each other. Actively listen, validate concerns, and present personalized solutions that fit you and your employees.

It’s also a good idea to make notes about each employee’s preferred communication method and style to ensure you’re communicating with each person in ways they can resonate with.

Reflect Often

Leaders are busy. For starters, leaders are responsible for meetings with stakeholders and other company leaders, managing an entire team, and ensuring individual leadership projects are completed.

Being always on the go like this hardly leaves time to reflect on what’s happened in and out of the workplace. But you must make time for self-reflection. You can analyze what’s worked and what hasn’t. You can become much more self-aware and understand how you’re affecting yourself and others.

Carve out time each night to reflect on the day you’ve had. You can make it a part of your bedtime routine and journal about what happened. You can use your nighttime walks with your dog to reflect. You could even do some reflecting in the shower.

Wherever you can find space and time for honest reflection, take advantage of it.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise can do wonders for your leadership abilities. The Mayo Clinic says that physical activity offers the following benefits:


       Deeper sleep

       Improve muscle strength and better endurance

       Helps control your weight and maintain weight loss

       Prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure

When you’re able to socialize and interact with your employees, you can build real relationships with them. Deeper sleep allows you to rest and reset for each day. When you’re at a healthy weight, strong, and able to do things longer, you can put more into your work. 

In addition to the above benefits, exercise can be a solid stress reliever. If being a leader comes with anything, it’s stress. You’re responsible for a lot of people, projects, and company goals. That pressure can be overwhelmingly stressful at times. A healthy coping mechanism for stress helps you navigate turbulent times better. It also helps you bounce back quicker.

When and how often you exercise is up to you. Fitting short routines into your morning, lunch period, or evening will be most beneficial and easier to remain consistent with.

Prioritize Sleep

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion said that getting enough sleep can reduce stress, improve your mood, help you think more clearly, have better interactions with people, improve decision-making, and help you perform better at work. 

You need all of these things as a leader. So, prioritizing sleep is a must. Establishing a bedtime routine can help you get the 7 or more hours of quality sleep each night you need. A bedtime routine can help tip your body off that it’s time for bed, easing a natural transition to sleep.

Start small with your routine. Don’t make it a chore by adding a bunch of activities to it. Stick to a couple and add more as you see fit. Choose calming activities that are tailored to who you are and your specific needs. Keep your routine under 30 minutes and stay consistent to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm.

Nurture Personal Passions

As important as you are in the workplace, your leadership role can’t be everything. In other words, you need a life outside of work to maintain balance in your life. Without a healthy work-life balance, you risk burning out and becoming a less effective leader.

Give your personal passions the same attention you give your work responsibilities. Not only do personal passions provide a way to reduce stress and relax, but they can also help improve your confidence and self-esteem because you’re doing something that allows you to nurture your authentic self.

Spend time on your passions weekly if not daily to keep you grounded.

Shape Your Company’s Workplace Culture

Working on yourself personally through the above habits will translate well into your leadership role in the workplace, particularly when it comes to shaping your company’s culture.

Effective communication, reflection, health and wellness, work-life balance — all of it can and should be incorporated into the workplace culture you build for your team. A positive workplace culture such as this can increase employee engagement, lower your turnover rate, and draw top talent to your company.

Take the feedback your employees give you about the company culture they need and the core values in your personal and professional life, fuse them, and come up with a vision for your company culture.

It’ll take time to see it come to fruition. So, be patient, continue to learn, and incorporate policies, procedures, resources, support, and values little by little.

All leaders must take the time to nurture specific personal habits to be the best they can be, starting with the ones above.  

About the Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and business topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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Friday, June 16, 2023

Lean Quote: Build Employee Engagement by Believing in Your People

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.  —  Jim Valvano  

A great leader can easily instill confidence among the staff. In order to maintain the positive work atmosphere which inspires creative thinking and new ideas, staff members have to feel confident about their work. A leader that simply nitpicks about everything and demonstrates extremely negative reactions for every mistake made will eventually ruin the positive energy in the work environment and ruin the self-confidence of the majority of staff members. A great and effective leader can inspire staff members to improve their performance and productivity by actively working on their confidence improvements. Publicly acknowledging those who perform well in certain areas can significantly contribute to this cause.

There are several ways that the leadership can show that they care about employees. Having a genuine belief in the people who make the organization successful starts with small steps.

Communicate Appreciation

Putting an employee recognition program into place is relatively simple. Give front line managers the guidance and resources that they need to regularly recognize employees for a job well done. Make employee recognition and praise a part of the workplace culture. Connect specific performance to organizational goals, but also to the professional and personal goals of the people who work there.

Support Professional Development

One of the best investments a company can make is to develop the talents and interests of employees. Host work-related workshops to teach new skills, and create a corporate tuition support for employees who wish to pursue industry certifications and degrees. By doing these things, you are communicating that you believe in your employees.

Offer Salary Incentives

Give employees the ability to “write” their own salary increases based on their performance and reaching learning milestones. As employees complete certifications, degree, or work training programs, give them the chance to earn more. Increase salaries well in advance of performance reviews, and then use this time to encourage and inspire them to go beyond their goals.

Celebrate Employees

It’s a great idea to celebrate company achievements, but it’s even more worthwhile to believe in and then celebrate employee successes. When an employee reaches a milestone or completes a goal, take the time to celebrate this in front of his or her peers. Make teams about supporting each other and then rejoicing when someone on that team succeeds.

As the organization shifts to believing in employees, it becomes much easier for employees to believe in the company. Goals become a personal link to the greater good that the organization stands for. Use the above steps to increase belief in your people and they will believe in the company.

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