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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Lean Tips Edition #206 (#3301 - #3315)

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 #3301 – Use a 60/20/20 Approach to Time Management

Instead of spending 100% of your time knocking out tasks via the “Whack-a-Mole” method, I suggest a strategic approach to time management. First, use 60% of your time to proactively focus on tasks that truly add value to your business or cannot be done by others. The other 40% of your time should be divided into two categories: 20% on planning and 20% on strategizing. Planning is dedicating time to resources and schedules for the operation of the business; strategizing is time evaluating how you can improve your business performance, your customer experience, or your profit model.

Lean Tip #3302 – Build in Downtime

In farming, Mother Nature gives us some downtime; in other businesses, you need to create your own downtime. This is not vacation or “off” time. This is time away from working in the business to work on the business: to review  data, streamline systems, plan for the next day, week, quarter, year—whatever timeline makes sense for your business. Carving out even an hour will allow you to strategically plan and have insight into small problems before they become major issues.

Lean Tip #3303 – Develop a Strategic Plan

Develop short-term goals: quarterly, semi-annual, or annual, and create a plan that will help you reach those goals. Make sure your plan considers the resources you may need: cash, people, equipment, inventory, and additional operating costs, and make sure the end result will be a service or product that customers are looking for. Set the metrics you will use to monitor your progress towards attaining that goal; adjust your plans as needed based on how close or far you are from your goal. If you aren't meeting your goal, determine why you are not meeting it.

Lean Tip #3304 – Connect With Your Employees

Your employees are also influential on your path to improving business. Creating a positive work environment for your team encourages motivation, productivity, and fresh ideas.

Employees seek out workplaces where they feel valued and respected, and you can implement strategies to create spaces for intentional conversation and celebration. This could be anything from an open-door policy between you and employees to quarterly team feedback meetings and birthday or holiday greetings.

Lean Tip #3305 – Do a Daily Standup Meeting

Also called huddles or scrums, a short, daily team meeting can improve business efficiency. Keep your team updated on what everyone is working on, who needs help and who might have extra time and problems or questions team members have. Face-to-face communication is the most efficient, but if you’ve got a lot of team members who work remotely or who are on the road, give video chat a try. Other than this meeting, try to limit interruptions throughout the day.

Lean Tip #3306 – Focus Team and Company on Crucial Tasks

Don’t confuse being busy with being productive – they’re not necessarily related. We all know someone who is always busy, but never seems to get anything done. Where focus goes, energy flows, and it’s crucial to keep your employees focused on just one task or goal at a time. Make it clear what’s most important, and efficiency will follow.

Lean Tip #3307 – Never Stop Improving

Business efficiency requires a certain mindset – one of constant improvement, hunger and the knowledge that there is always more to learn. It’s a personal trait, but it is also one that you can make a part of your company culture. It will encourage risk-taking and innovation in your employees, which are both important in creating efficiency.

Lean Tip #3308 – Maintain High Employee Morale

Your employees aren’t going to work hard if they’re not happy. Do your part by creating a safe, welcoming environment where they’ll want to work. This isn’t just about company BBQs or free snacks, either. Understanding your leadership style and how your employees want to be led and spoken to is critical to building a business they’ll want to stay at.

Lean Tip #3309 – Build Trust

Building trust in the workplace leads to stronger bonds between employer and employee, as well as between colleagues. Trusting people to do their jobs without looming over them helps create a place where they feel valued and free to do their best work. In return, if you’re honest and transparent with employees, they’re more likely to return the favor, providing valuable insight on tasks, products, services and more.

Lean Tip #3310 – Provide the Right Tools

It seems obvious, but you might be surprised how many businesses aren’t providing their employees with the skills and tools they need to do their jobs. Whether you’re looking at project management software or new training for your accountant, the one-time fee or yearly subscription cost you may pay for a tool will often repay itself tenfold in terms of getting work done quickly and accurately.

Lean Tip #3311 – Figure Out Why Changes are Needed

To effectively manage change in your business, you must first understand why you need to change. Many of your businesses and their employees will have seen massive changes during lockdown and, due to the major shift we’ve seen in the economy, many of these have been necessary to simply survive. Other pressures which might be driving the need for change might be a new leadership team, new competitors, new technology, a new type of customer or demand for a different kind of product or service.

Lean Tip #3312 – Engage With Your Workforce

Your plans for change are likely to only work if key stakeholders within your company understand why it needs to happen and are invested in it. Engaging with your workforce is important and will be a huge source of intelligence which can shape the development of your plan. People tend to fear or resent changes imposed upon them. You have an opportunity to make your workforce part of the changes that are happening so they feel a sense of ownership and control over what’s happening.

Lean Tip #3313 – Communicate Your Plans to Employees

Effective communication with your colleagues at all levels is key to ensuring any period of change runs as smoothly as possible. You must be able to communicate the change process and the need for redevelopment to your employees to help them understand why it’s necessary and how they can help the company to make it a successful and positive experience where possible. Your employees need to know how it will affect their jobs.

Lean Tip #3314 – Plan for Every Eventuality

You can make detailed plans but you are bound to discover roadblocks along the way. No period of change will be problem free – so plan to flex your problem-solving muscles! You should encourage your employees to communicate what obstacles are in their way and how they are preventing them changing the way they work. These issues could be ingrained cultural behaviors amongst your management team or workforce. They could be linked to a lack of technology, resources or employees in certain positions.

Lean Tip #3315 – Empower Your Colleagues to Learn

Managing a major change project might be tough and not everyone is equipped with the skills to do so. You might need to look at how your resources affect the changes. Do you have colleagues with the right management skills? You could offer training opportunities to co-workers already in key roles. Using existing employees rather than recruiting someone new can also feel less threatening to your team.

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