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Monday, April 22, 2024

Lean Tips Edition #298 (#3496 - #3510)

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 #3496 – Enhance Cross-Functional Collaboration

Many organizations find that most waste occurs at the points in a process where different functions intersect. Breakdowns that result in waiting, wasted motion, and unnecessary movement are common when handoffs occur. That's why getting all departments on one system to manage improvement and problem-solving is critical. When everyone is on a single platform, communication flows smoothly, and improvement gains momentum. Everyone speaks the same language and follows a standard procedure for planning, implementing, and evaluating their improvements.

Lean Tip #3497 – Conduct a Waste Audit

A waste audit involves analyzing each area of your startup to identify specific instances of waste. This can be done by observing workflows, talking to employees, and reviewing data. For instance, if you notice that your sales team spends a significant amount of time on manual data entry, this could be considered a waste of their time and skills. Similarly, if you find that your manufacturing process results in a high rate of defective products, it's important to address this waste to minimize costs and improve quality.

Lean Tip #3498 – Monitor and Measure Progress

To ensure that your efforts to eliminate waste are effective, it's crucial to monitor and measure your progress. Set key performance indicators (KPIs) that reflect your waste reduction goals and regularly track and analyze the data. For example, you can measure the reduction in defects, the decrease in inventory levels, or the improvement in lead times. 

By monitoring and measuring progress, you can identify areas that still require improvement and make necessary adjustments to your lean initiatives. Celebrate success along the way to keep your team motivated and engaged in the waste elimination process.

Lean Tip #3499 – Streamline Processes

One of the most effective ways to identify waste is by analyzing your business processes. Look for inefficiencies, redundancies, or bottlenecks that may be causing unnecessary delays or expenses. For example, if your production line requires excessive manual handling or frequent rework, it might be time to invest in automation or process optimization. By streamlining your processes, you can reduce labor costs, improve productivity, and minimize waste.

Lean Tip #3500 – Eliminating Non-Value-Added Activities

Non-value-added activities refer to tasks that do not contribute to the final product or service. These activities consume resources without adding any value for the customer. Take a critical look at your operations and identify any activities that can be eliminated or streamlined. For instance, excessive paperwork, unnecessary meetings, or redundant approvals can be streamlined or eliminated altogether. By focusing on value-added activities, you can enhance efficiency and reduce unnecessary expenses.

Lean Tip #3501 – Give Your Team Members Ownership

The best leaders in the business understand the power of ownership. Giving ownership to the team members means nothing but letting them make their own decisions and making them accountable for their work.

Making team members accountable for their work induces a sense of responsibility in them regarding their work can be very helpful in improving team performance. They start to see their work differently so that their decisions can impact the performance of the entire team.

Lean Tip #3502 – Ensure Proper Communication

Communication is one of the critical factors that contribute mainly to team productivity. Without effective communication, businesses fail.

A lot of successful businesses thrive on effective communication. Now, a project manager must ensure effective communication prevails in a team.

Communication plays a significant role in helping team members to understand their job responsibilities. And, if there is any communication gap, it can lead to multiple confusions within a team, which will undoubtedly impact the overall productivity of a team.

Lean Tip #3503 – Give Them Room to Work

Every employee or team member works best when given an environment where they are allowed to do things ‘their way’. Most employees tend to lose interest as soon as they are being micromanaged by their bosses or managers.

One of the many ways that can help you overcome this is to create a kickass team. Define their job responsibilities and your expectations clearly to them. Now, get out of their way and let them work on their own.

At the same time, be approachable so that if someone in your team has a question, they don’t need to think twice to clarify their doubts.

Always trust your team with utmost confidence. This further strengthens their belief in themselves which helps them to perform to their best abilities and contribute positively to team productivity.

Lean Tip #3504 – Praise a Job Well Done

While for different employees, different things work to boost their productivity and efficiency at work. But for many of them, it is something as simple as being acknowledged for their efforts.

Nothing can add to productivity if an employee feels that his contribution isn’t valued enough. Whereas appreciating them in front of the whole team can work wonders.

Instead of virtual congratulatory words, this public act of appreciation inspires others in the group to do their best. This promotes a healthy work culture in an organization which will be an addition to boosting team productivity.

Lean Tip #3505 – Lead With Gratitude

Being thankful can have a major impact on the people you work with within the workplace. Gratitude improves how we interact with others and collaborate. It makes our colleagues feel a sense of belonging and motivates them to work harder. So, don’t ever underestimate the power of a firm handshake, a warm smile, and saying “thank you” to your team members.

Lean Tip #3506 – Provide Help if Needed

Helping your team members at work is critical to fostering and maintaining a stable workplace. As a team leader, you should encourage your team members to approach you in case they have any questions or concerns at work. You should instill confidence in them by taking the initiative. Observe your team, which people are most productive and who are struggling with meeting deadlines.

Here are some ways how to improve team productivity by offering timely help to your team members.

  • Practice consistent communication with team members
  • Actively listen to people in your team and encourage 2-way communication
  • Use your experience to recognize when others are struggling at work
  • Build relationships with team members while being aware of professional boundaries
  • Practice surprising acts of thoughtfulness such as getting them coffee, leaving personalized “thank you” notes on their desk, etc.
  • Ensure a fair and even workload to prevent employee burnout and excessive stress
  • Inspire positivity by maintaining a friendly attitude

Lean Tip #3507 – Be Authentic and Vulnerable

Create an environment of trust and honesty within your team so people feel comfortable talking about what's going on for them. Start from the top by being honest and open about where you have opportunities or where you might have trouble. Being publicly vulnerable with your team shows them that admitting when you don't know or need assistance is OK.

Cultivate a team culture that lets people know that it's okay to be human. Asking for help, admitting you were wrong, or having a project go sideways isn't unforgivable. If you position these things as learning opportunities, it will help your team be more productive — they can move forward and try new things without having to worry about being punished for failure.

Lean Tip #3508 – Set a North Star

One of the hallmarks of a good team is working together. But how are you supposed to work together if you don't know where you're trying to go? Imagine a three-legged race where both participants are trying to run in different directions — they wouldn't get very far!

The same goes for your team if they don't have a unifying goal or metric that they are trying to hit. Before you start trying to boost your productivity, identify the big things that would impact your customers' experiences. From there, distill the big-ticket items into achievable goals and metrics.

A "North Star" metric is a measure that is the most likely to indicate success for a company or team. In the case of support, your North Star metric may be:

  • Customer satisfaction (CSAT)
  • Customer effort score (CES)
  • First contact resolution
  • Time to first response

Or, it may be something that funnels up to your company's overall metrics. For example, if your company sets a North Star metric of the number of customers and wants to increase from 10,000 to 30,000 customers in a year, your team would need to set some goals in service to that. Those goals might be closely linked with:

  • Customer happiness
  • Time to first response
  • Churn
  • Renewal rate
  • Customer satisfaction

Each of those metrics contributes to the company’s North Star by helping to maintain or gain new customers.

Lean Tip #3509 – Prioritize Your Goals

One of the best ways to increase productivity within your team is to prioritize your goals well and to help your team members prioritize theirs. Once you've identified priorities and started to work toward them as a team, check in regularly to see if they need to shift or grow with your team’s abilities and your company's goals.

Lean Tip #3510 – Reward Quality, Not Quantity

Recognition is so important when it comes to the workplace. Any good team lead or manager takes the time to recognize the hard work and effort their team members put in. This recognition can occur at the team level, within stand-ups or meetings, or at the company level during all-hands or annual events.

When you recognize excellent work and contributions, try to focus on quality efforts rather than the quantity of a body of work. For instance, consider if one of your team members answers tons of tickets but has a low customer satisfaction score. You may also have another team member who responds to fewer tickets but has a 100% customer satisfaction rating. In this situation, it's best to target your praise on the team member with higher-quality work.

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