Category Archives: People
I want to say a special thank to all the readers of my blog. I appreciate your comments and your time. I know your time is valuable and knowing you take a few minutes each week to read what I have posted means a lot. I hope to continue to add value and post topics and viewpoints that you enjoy reading.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
Is all customer feedback accurate? Should all customer feedback be displayed?
My first reaction was absolutely all feedback should be displayed. This is great transparency and help drive improvement. If you don’t want negative customer feedback then provide a good experience.
I now have changed my tune a bit. I do believe that customer feedback should be transparent, even the negative. What I don’t believe is that all feedback should be displayed because there is some of it that is flat out wrong.
It is one thing to have your business not provide a positive experience and actual events posted about that versus an experience that is just not the case. This is easier to monitor and see in small businesses.
The ideal state is that no bad experiences happen and a customer never receives bad quality product. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. If a customer receives a product they are not happy with the provider should have a chance to correct the situation.
In recent months, I have seen where customers are posting negative comments on small businesses that are flat out lies. Either talking about the business not working with them to correct a situation when the customer never even contacted the business to correct the situation or describing a defect that is not even physically possible with that product.
Understanding unsatisfied customers is a great thing to help improve your business. False information that can damage a business is just wrong.
So when using the customer reviews, you must be cautious with what you read. Understand all the feedback and try to make an educated decision. Heck. Even contact the business and ask questions to help you feel more comfortable.
A pillar of lean that is discussed regularly across blogs is the respect for people. Steve Roesler, at All Things Workplace, posted a great blog about just saying ‘thank you.’
Research by UK performance improvement consultants Maritz has found that almost one in five of us (19 per cent) have never been thanked for our efforts at work while more than a third only hear those two little words once or twice a year.
Perhaps not-entirely coincidentally, that’s about the same proportion as another recent survey found have no loyalty towards the organisation they work for and couldn’t care less about their job.
Steve goes on to conclude:
Executives need to start thanking their managers regularly. Then they need to tell them to start thanking their people. Maybe we could get uppity and call it “Building a Culture of Thanks.” Clearly, it would be more effective and less costly than conferences and software.
This is just a part of respecting people. Too many times, people get taken for granted even when they do great work consistently.
It isn’t hard to say ‘thank you’. It takes two seconds and it can go along way in showing that you have noticed and you care. You respect their work and time.
There was an interesting story a couple of weeks back about the use of HGH in Major League Baseball (MLB). It took years but there is finally testing for performance enhancing drugs, including human growth hormone (HGH).
The part that was most interesting from a lean and metrics standpoint was about the base lining of HGH. Instead of using baseline data for the amount of HGH a person should have established by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), MLB is establishing their own baseline. What is even more incredible is the MLB is telling players when they will be tested for the baseline.
A MLB player can load himself with HGH in preparation for the test. This would be no different than a department manager saving some of the extra production from the week before and print the finishing tickets the next week so both weeks look good. MLB’s baseline procedure would allow players to skew the baseline to the high side. Players could continue to take HGH as a performance enhancing drug and still “be within the baseline.”
This is gaming the system to your benefit and missing the true intention of what is trying to be accomplished. This is why the principle of directly observing the work is so important. When you go and see what is actually happening gaming the system becomes harder because you see the finished product on the floor waiting for tickets or that players might be juicing up for the baseline test.
A balanced scorecard and direct observation can help prevent gaming the system.
Lean organizations work to develop people. Continually, helping people to improve their skills and give them new experiences. When you do this well, these people will shine and really make you shine.
This isn’t just managers that have people that report directly to them. This is also for project managers that are managing people for a short period of time. By fostering the development and encouraging them to make choices with coaching and guidance, you surround yourself with good people. This makes work and projects go smoother and deliver the outcomes you desire.
What are you doing to foster the people around you? How are you helping to surround yourself with good people?
It looks like others are finally catching on to something the lean community has been talking about for years. Employee engagement benefits companies in many ways. The article talks about how employee engagement does more than just boost productivity. It helps with absenteeism, delivering company results and turnover rate.
Jim Harter Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup Research explained what engaged employees do differently in an email interview: “Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? If you are engaged and part of the solution and the work then you pay attention and take it personally.
Harter also reiterates things the lean community has been trying to get people to understand for year.
Engaged employees “listen to the opinions of people close to the action (close to actual safety issues and quality or defect issues), and help people see the connection between their everyday work and the larger purpose or mission of the organization.” When engaged employee do this they create a virtuous circle where communication and collaboration nurture engagement and vice versa.
I appreciate the studies Harter has done, but why do we need studies to know and understand all of this. Lean organizations did read a study and then engage their people. Lean organizations engaged their people out of respect. Looking at people as more than just ‘hands and feet.’ When they did they saw all these benefits. Lean organizations have been trying to tell others this for years.
It is amazing that studies have to be done to understand this ‘phenomenon’.
So how can we engage our people?
One way to simplify it is to focus on purpose. Communicate the purpose of the organization, and how employees’ individual purposes fit into that purpose. When employees “clearly know their role, have what they need to fulfill their role, and can see the connection between their role and the overall organizational purpose,” says Harter, that’s the recipe for creating greater levels of engagement.
How are you engaging your people?
One of the fundamental differences in a lean company versus a traditional company is how they go about problem solving. In a traditional management company, problems are hidden and managers want the problem “solved” and move on. This usually leads to problems having band-aides being put into place. Later the same problem surfaces again and another band-aide is put on again.
In a lean management company, problems are looked as a way to get better and are not hidden. Managers want the root cause of the problem found so the issue doesn’t arise again.
In both traditional and lean mindsets, I do believe that managers want the issue resolved so that is never arises again. It is there behaviors that truly dictate whether a band-aide is put on the problem or if the root cause is found.
A traditional mindset manager continually asks, “Is it solved yet?” or “When will it be solved?” or something very similar. They are pushing for action to be taken without understanding anything about the problem. It is a ‘just solve it and lets move on’ mentality. Hurry up!
A lean mindset manager asks questions also, but more to get an understanding of how your process is coming along and driving to complete the next step of the process. Questions might be something like, “What have you discovered about the problem?” or “What have you learned?”. The manager understands there will be a lot of time spent in the discovery mode investigating the problem. The manager supports the process and helps the person through the process.
An example from my personal experience. I was working on an issue that had been around for 40 years. Everyday my manager asked, “When are you going to have that solved?” Finally, I said “The problem has been around for 40 years and no one has solved it. I think I get 3 months not a week.” Not the smartest thing to say to your manager but in this case it gave me some room to find the root cause, which the team did.
Later that year there was another issue that we had to work 16 hour days to solve but we followed the process and we nailed it.
After that extremely hot issue, my manager saw the benefit of following the process. He then would ask, “Where are you on that problem? Are there roadblocks I can help with?”
It really changed the environment to problem solve. In fact, the problem solving process started moving faster and he ended up getting the results he wanted faster.
The lesson was the manager’s mindset, attitude and support around problem solving creates the type of results gotten.
What is your mindset towards problem solving and supporting your employees?
Today’s post is from Tony Ferraro, on behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR (www.creativesafetysupply.com). Tony strives to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. Tony believes in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier employees.
Lean is something that is often associated with businesses and focuses mainly on reducing waste and adding value. However, lately I have been pondering the thought “Can lean be taught to children?” Wouldn’t it be great if children learned the concepts of lean at a young age? My mind literally boggles at the sheer possibilities. I’m not talking about sitting children down in a classroom and teaching them lean exclusively like reading or math, but instead just weaving the concepts of lean through life’s regular and everyday activities.
Imagine the Possibilities
The concepts of lean have been credited with high levels of success in the workplace, so why can’t the same concepts be beneficial in other areas of life as well? The truth is, they CAN! Creating a generation of innovative thinkers, ready to add value to society sounds like a pretty wonderful idea to me. Many of us have not been introduced to the concepts of lean until later in life, and unfortunately our minds have not had the opportunity to truly expand and grow with the concept. However, we can change that with the introduction of lean.
How to Start the Lean Mindset
The first thing we have to remember is that children are just children. We cannot expect them to act like adults. However, one of the benefits of starting lean concepts early is that when children are young their minds are very malleable. If children are taught to reduce waste and participate in value added activities early in life, that mindset will usually follow them through into adulthood. The key is to really start out simple and introduce the obvious and most tangible ways to reduce waste. This may include engaging in activities such as reusing and recycling. Instead of simply throwing out old clothing that does not fit, teach children that it can be reused and given to places such as the “Goodwill” or “The Salvation Army” so other children can wear the clothing, thus adding value for another person. Engaging in activities such as this puts the act of reducing waste into terms that children can understand. Furthermore, children can also be involved with activities such as household chores to practice lean. In fact, lean can be weaved into even the simplest task such as dish washing. For example, loading a dishwasher by putting all forks in one compartment and all spoons in another takes less time to unload since the flatware has already been separated. Doing this reduces wasted time.
The possibilities are limitless when it comes to the lean mindset. The truth is that lean can be implemented anywhere and everywhere; it is not just strictly for business use. When lean concepts are implemented and practiced at an early age they become just a normal part of life. Providing children with the tools necessary to be independent thinkers, who are capable of seeking improvement and reducing unneeded waste, will help to create a society of endless possibilities and opportunities.
“I don’t feel like a coach anymore. We are friends and I care about what happens.”
—Usher on The Voice
I know what you are thinking right now, “Did he really just quote Usher on a lean website?”
The answer is yes I did. Usher made that comment about a week ago when asked about his thoughts on coaching his last remaining team member.
The comment struck me because I have had the same experience when being coached and when coaching. The people that have coached me I feel that we have become friends as well as the people that I have coached.
Being a coach is more than just giving instruction, whether it is in business, sports or life. When you are fully vested in coaching you care about what happens to the other person. When you truly care it is hard not to become friends or develop a more lasting relationship.
We may say we are coaching a lot of different people but when it comes right down to it we really only coach a few people at a time. It becomes too intense to do anything more. We may instruct or guide others, but when it comes to coaching there is much more of a personal investment.
Usher wasn’t the only coach to make similar comments. I noticed that other coaches on The Voice have said the same thing about caring for their team members they coach.
Who has coached you? Do you still talk with the ones that really had an impact on you whether it be sports or business?
A topic that comes up a lot here and around the blog sphere is around leadership and what it looks like in a lean environment. There are many great perspectives on leading in a lean organization.
Mark Graban has done a great job breaking down some of Dr. Deming’s view on how to lead a transformation and what the role of a manager of people should be. Dr. Deming’s teachings still ring true today. His thoughts and leadership are timeless.
Mark also took some great notes from Art Byrne’s speech at the AME Spring Conference. Art spoke about why and how to do lean, but the most interesting part was Art’s thoughts on management principles. It is another great blog post summary of leadership.
Jamie Flinchbaugh wrote a great blog about the difference between tension and stress. Jamie explains a leader’s role in creating tension. Knowing you are not where you are supposed to be but understanding the gap and developing a plan to close it. Jamie does a great job of explaining how stress is not a good thing but tension is very healthy.
Steve Roesler explains how effective coaching as a leader leads to commitment from the employees. Steve’s ‘what it takes’ and ’3 to-dos’ is very insightful.
And awhile back Mark Welch wrote a great guest blog for Beyond Lean about being a Servant Leader. He looks at how Jesus was a servant leader and what we can learn from it for a lean organization.
There are many great blogs about leadership. I encourage you to make copies of a few and refer back to them occasionally. It is always good to get a refresher.