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Monday, November 13, 2023

Lean Tips Edition #212 (#3391 - #3405)

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 #3391 – Seek to Understand the Process Before Making Improvements

Before you can utilize a process map to optimize your project workflows, you must first understand the process you seek to improve. Creating a process map with your team is a great way to break down the individual tasks involved in an operational workflow.

Start by asking your project team what type of process you are depicting. For example, is it a management process or an organizational process? This will help you determine what type of process map you need to accurately depict the ins and outs of the process.

Next, review who is involved in the process and what tasks are required for the process to run smoothly. Determine the sequence of these activities and how the flow of activities affect certain key performance indicators such as lead time and cycle duration. This will help your team understand how the workflow operates and ultimately determine which areas need to be optimized.

Lean Tip #3392 – Detail Every Step of the Process in Depth

When visually representing a workflow, it is important to list every single step within the process. Leaving out steps can result in missed opportunities for improvement and inaccurate representations of current processes.

If you are mapping out a particularly complex process, be sure to note the logic behind the flow of tasks so that other project stakeholders can understand why the process operates as it currently does. When project team members fully understand the logic behind the process at hand, they feel more confident giving recommendations for process improvements.

Lean Tip #3393 – Focus on Optimizing Tasks that Produce Results

The main purpose of creating a process map is to help a project team better understand and optimize a specific business process. In other words, process mapping is a technique that helps organizations produce better results and increase their bottom line. 

When process mapping, be sure to emphasize and analyze the tasks that directly affect the end product. In other words, identify your critical path first. All tasks within a critical path directly affect project completion time, which (in most cases) is one of the most important key performance indicators that project teams seek to improve.

By identifying and optimizing the most critical tasks within a process, project teams will be able to pinpoint areas of improvement and save revenue normally spent on resources such as man hours, transportation, and other project related costs.

Lean Tip #3394 – Identify and Analyze the Gaps and Pain Points

One of the main benefits of process mapping is that it helps you identify and analyze the gaps and pain points in your current process. By visualizing the process, you can spot the inefficiencies, redundancies, errors, delays, or risks that affect the quality and performance of the process. You can also use various tools and techniques, such as value stream mapping, root cause analysis, or SWOT analysis, to diagnose the causes and effects of these problems and to prioritize the areas for improvement or re-engineering.

Lean Tip #3395 – Update and Maintain Your Process Map

Process mapping is not a one-time activity. It is a continuous process that requires regular updates and maintenance to keep up with the changes and developments in your business environment. You need to monitor and measure the performance and quality of your process, review and revise your process map as needed, and communicate and document any changes or improvements to your stakeholders. By doing so, you can ensure that your process map remains relevant, accurate, and effective for your business goals.

Lean Tip #3396 – Set Aside Time to Learn

Impending deadlines, on-going projects, endless meetings – it’s hard to find time to learn. It’s the number one reason why employees feel held back from learning. If you’re part of an organization, developing a learning culture, you have to be an advocate for learning time. Your employees need to know that they’re not only allowed, but encouraged to take time out of their day to brush up on their skills.

Some businesses implement a company-wide rule that team members can have 2+ hours of training a week, or ask managers to remind people it’s okay to focus on learning. Either way, letting everyone know they have the time should foster a culture of learning.

Lean Tip #3397 – Promote Learning

Employees aren’t going to learn if they don’t know about it. It’s time to unleash your inner marketer and promote learning throughout your organization.

If you’re about to launch a learning program, make learners aware of it by sending around emails and getting management to let their staff know about the training. Also, let your employees know what’s in it for them. Knowing the advantages of learning is a big motivator.

Lean Tip #3398 – Keep Learning Continuous

It’s a common pitfall. Businesses decide to invest in learning, but then only offer a course or mentoring session once every six months. Or they roll out a couple of courses, but never add more. A learning culture isn’t a one and done practice. It needs to be continuous, constantly worked on, with new courses and resources being handed out so that it becomes a habit in your organization.

Lean Tip #3399 – Make Training Easily Accessible

Employees won’t want to learn if the process is arduous. You need to ensure that it’s as seamless and friction-free as possible. Accessibility also encompasses awareness of where training happens. When you’re launching a learning program, make sure to tell your employees that courses are available and where they can find them. This will make the whole process as simple as possible for your learners.

Lean Tip #3400 – Reward Learning

Recognition is important. Employees want to be acknowledged for the time they’ve invested in learning. We recommend having company-wide initiatives that reward your team members for their hard work. These can be small, such as a shout out about how well someone has performed in an email or on Slack. Or it can be larger and more motivating, like a prize for the employee with the most courses completed over a six month period.

This will not only help with the uptake of the courses you’re delivering, but it will show your employees that you value the work they put into learning.

Lean Tip #3401 – Encourage Professional Development

Most employees are not satisfied with the status quo, especially those who are high-potential and highly driven. If given the proper guidance in their development, they will become the future leaders of your organization and be your best ambassadors of the qualities, skills and capabilities that are critical for your organization’s success.

Consider your organization’s full potential and how professional development can help them achieve it. Organizations that are transforming and growing are better off when they encourage their people to transform and grow, too. A growth mindset in employees sparks the kind of behaviors that are critical for an organization to grow.

Lean Tip #3402 – Pair Employees With Mentors

Although useful, staff development is so much more than training classes and conferences. Find someone who is in a similar role to the employee, or a role where you want the employee to be in the future. Mentoring relationships can foster positive and productive working relationships, helping employees learn and gain encouragement and support in their careers. When coached with encouragement and goals in mind, your employees can help your business adapt to changes and reach the next level of success, while they’re reaching the next level of success, too.

Lean Tip #3403 – Help Employees Build Their Networks

Recommend opportunities within the organization, as well as networking or professional groups that will help them build strong connections. Explore ways employees can share knowledge. Encourage them to travel to other sites/offices to shadow others and get to know other parts of the business.

These interactions are priceless in helping people learn from others and make important and lasting connections around the company that elevate collaboration and innovation – all the while helping get important business done.

Lean Tip #3404 – Step a\Away and Let Them Do Their Job. 

Many managers struggle with trusting their team to get the work done. We are all very busy, so as managers we think the job will get done better and quicker if we just do it, right? Not, exactly.  No one will benefit from that behavior. The tendency to be a high performer through personal productivity is a skill that enables managers to get to a manager role, but has to be unlearned as work is done through your people. Be sure you’re people are trained, know the expectations, then let go, and let them handle it. You’ll need to be available and provide supervision, but the more you trust them, the more confident they will become. Empower them to make decisions and to handle the responsibility of their roles.

Lean Tip #3405 – Turn Weekly Meetings Into Learning Opportunities

Employee development isn’t something that happens only in an annual review, nor something you can just pass off to the HR department. All of your regular interactions, from reviews, to project check-ins, to weekly meetings, are chances to develop your team. Consider ways to integrate a development mindset into your regular meetings.

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