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Human Resource’s Role in Lean

I am a firmly believe the Human Resource department needs to be a leader  in the transformation of  the culture during a lean implementation.  HR can and should play a role in helping with training of lean tools and concepts as well as the cross training of employees so the staff is more flexible.  HR can help with people having trouble transforming from a traditional culture to a lean culture.

A common  way to understand lean in is through two pillars: Continuous Improvement and Respect for People.  In my opinion, the greatest impact the HR organization can have on a lean transformation is the education on what respect for people really means and looks like.

Lean is about people and gaining everyone’s engagement in continuous improvement.  One reason an organization would like everyone engaged is to show respect for them.  It shows they value their brains and hearts and don’t look at them as solely hands and feet.

So if lean is about people, who better to educate and train on skills and behaviors to show the respect for people principle than HR?

HR can help with personality assessments, like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  This allows people to get a better understanding of how the people they work with think.  When the group understands each other they can show respect for how one another operates and thinks.

HR can also train the group in skills on how to have open and honest communication based on your relationship with a person or group of people.

HR can also give training on the Woodstone Principles that are aligned with lean thinking.  The principles are:

  1. You are accountable for your performance
  2. You are accountable for the performance of your stake holders
  3. Subordinate your agenda for the betterment of the company

Finally, HR can help by educating on how to include people. When people feel included in the business they are more likely to understand and engage in the improvement of the business.

Lets respect Human Resources and ask them to use their knowledge in people to help the organization become better at showing respect for people.

Understanding Yourself to Become a Better Leader – Prepared or Going with the Flow

Part 4 of 4

This is part of a series of posts about understanding yourself and your personality in order to become a better leader.  There are many tools that can be used for personality assessments.  The company I currently work for uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  There are many other personality assessment tools available, but I have found this tool to be pretty accurate for me.  The MBTI is broken up into 4 segments with results placing the participant in one of two categories based on the responses the questions in the survey.  My results showed that I am an ISTJ.  Getting my results has caused me to do a lot of reflection over the last year and a half on how I can use this information to become a better leader.  I thought I would share my reflection and understanding of the results.

This is part 4 of 4 – Judging vs. Perceiving

Judging (J) – tend to be organized and orderly and to make decisions quickly

Perceiving (P) – tend to be flexible and adaptable and to keep your options open as long as possible

My reflections have been centered around being a ‘J’.  Some of the thinking tendencies are:

  • Be prepared for the worst with many contingencies prepared
  • Enjoy looking ahead and planning for the future
  • Arrange you world so you don’t have to deal with last minute rushes
  • Like established methods and procedures
  • Are likely to deliver what was prepared in advance with little deviation
  • Work within a superstructure of efficiency

My personality of being a ‘J’ has come in handy when trying new standardized work because I like to create established methods and procedures.  The standardized work gives me a sense that I am working efficiently which helps to calm me.  It can be a roadblock sometimes with trying something new though.  This is a hurdle I had to get over quickly since I am in the role of creating change.  I can’t ask others to change and not be willing to do it myself.

Being prepared for the worst and have contingency plans is a great asset when creating change.  When trialing a new process flow or changeover procedure, you plan to be successful, but nothing ever seems to go as planned.  It is great to have contingency plans to help make the trial go smoother or show that even if things don’t work perfectly the new idea can still work.  Too many times if it doesn’t work perfectly right from the start people fall back to their old way of doing things.  Sometimes creating too many contingency plans can mean taking too much time to get something ready and not enough doing.

Judging has its advantages but can have disadvantages too.  It is hard work practicing to be out of your tendencies but it will pay dividends in your leadership.

Which category are you in?  J?  P?  How does your natural tendency tend to help you as a leader?  Hurt you as a leader?

Summary

No matter what category you fall into in all four segments, it is important to be able to balance between both.  Both have advantages and both have disadvantages.  As a good leader, you have to be able to know when to use what traits.  The first step in being able to do this is to understand yourself and what are your natural tendencies.  Once you understand them, then you can devise a plan to work on the other areas.  It is basic problem solving: understand the current state (what are your tendencies), design the future state (balance of all 8 categories in the four segments) and analyze the gap.

As lean change agents, we need to be the best leaders we can.

Understanding Yourself to Become a Better Leader – Don’t Over Think

Part 3 of 4

This is part of a series of posts about understanding yourself and your personality in order to become a better leader.  There are many tools that can be used for personality assessments.  The company I currently work for uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  There are many other personality assessment tools available, but I have found this tool to be pretty accurate for me.  The MBTI is broken up into 4 segments with results placing the participant in one of two categories based on the responses the the questions in the survey.  My results showed that I am an ISTJ.  Getting my results have caused me to do a lot of reflection over the last year and a half on how I can use this information to become a better leader.  I thought I would share my reflection and understanding of the results.

This is part 3 of 4 – Thinking vs. Feeling

Thinking (T) - make decisions using logical, objective analysis

Feeling (F) - make decisions to create harmony by applying person-centered values

My reflections have been centered around being a ‘T’.  Some of the thinking tendencies are:

  • Uses hard data to make decisions
  • Confident and clear about objectives and decisions
  • Hold questions until others have had a chance
  • Seen as close minded, not open to new ideas, skeptical
  • Don’t pay much attention to people’s emotions
  • Focus on cause and effect

Part of this was hard for me to swallow as I reflected.  The part about not paying attention to people’s feelings was very difficult.  I realize that I do care about how people feel but when it come to getting the job done, I hate excuses.  This comes off as not caring or even closed minded.  As leaders we have to be open to how people react to tone of voice or comments.  This is one thing that I have been working the hardest on.  One way to work on this is to have people you trust at work.  People that you can go to and ask if you are coming off as not caring or will come to you and have that open dialogue.

Holding questions until others have had a chance can be helpful to gather as much information before jumping in.  This can allow for better questions to be asked to dig deeper into the issues.  Waiting too long can be seen as not participating.  Asking questions is very important in coaching others to think through processes, but they have to be the right questions at the right time.

Being clear and confident in the objectives and decisions is a good thing for a strong leader.  People seem to rally around leaders with confidence and can give clear direction as to where they are heading.  This strong confidence needs to be balanced with not being seen as closed minded.  Sometimes leaders become over-confident to the point where they do not want to listen to other perspectives or ideas.  Leaders will lose people if they are seen as inflexible or close minded.  One way to be open to new ideas is through using data to help show how the new idea might be beneficial through data.  Sometimes though you have to use your intuition (N – from part 2) to try something new.

Thinking has its advantages but can have disadvantages too.  It is hard work practicing to be out of your tendencies but it will pay dividends in your leadership.

Which category are you in?  T?  F?  How does your natural tendency tend to help you as a leader?  Hurt you as a leader?

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Understanding Yourself to Become a Better Leader – Balance Sense and Intuition

Part 2 of 4

This is part of a series of posts about understanding yourself and your personality in order to become a better leader.  There are many tools that can be used for personality assessments.  The company I currently work for uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  There are many other personality assessment tools available, but I have found this tool to be pretty accurate for me.  The MBTI is broken up into 4 segments with results placing the participant in one of two categories based on the responses the the questions in the survey.  My results showed that I am an ISTJ.  Getting my results have caused me to do a lot of reflection over the last year and a half on how I can use this information to become a better leader.  I thought I would share my reflection and understanding of the results.

This is part 2 of 4 – Sensing vs. Intuition

Sensing (S) - notice and trust facts, details, and present realities

Intuition (N) - attend to and trust interrelationships, theories, and future possibilities

My reflections have been centered around being an ‘S’.  Some of the sensing tendencies are:

  • Have all the facts before moving on
  • May find it hard to link facts to the bigger picture
  • Seen as matter-of-fact and sensible
  • Find applying ideas more appealing than the ideas themselves
  • Learn best from direct hands-on experience
  • Comfortable with the tried and true because it provides a precedent to follow

I rely on my sensing tendencies quite often.  I have found they come in handy when doing hands on problem solving.  Wanting to dive right in and get hands-on experience but not moving on until all the facts are understood are very good traits for problem solving.  This works very well when you want to lead by example.  Show people the behaviors and actions that you want exhibited in your organization.  But what if you are trying to develop your employees thinking?  This can be a hindrance.  There is coaching to a solution and coaching to a method (credit Jamie Flinchbaugh with that line).  Coaching to a solution is leading the person to the solution that you want.  Coaching to a method means you guide them on a path and let them discover a solution on their own.  both have there time and place.  When coaching to a method, you have to be aware as a leader that you don’t dive and and get into the nuts and bolts of the problem with the person you are coaching.   If you can find a method that allows you to coach to a solution, the good news is with sensing tendencies you will be able to use that method and feel comfortable with it once you have a precedent.

Preferring to apply ideas more than thinking of the ideas themselves can be challenging.  One way to help develop the ability to think about ideas is to spend some time reflecting on what you are working on.  Take a scheduled time out and go where you won’t be disturbed.  Just think.  Doodle ideas down.  It can be difficult but I have time I block out every Friday morning for reflection and I have been able to think of new ideas to try during that time.  Once you have an idea, then it is easy to get excited to go out and try it because that what an ‘S’ loves to do.

One other thing I work on is tying all my work back to the bigger picture.  A tool that I find very useful is a flow tree.  Start with the bigger picture and see how it flows down to my work.  Another great tool for this is strategy deployment (good book on it).  The idea is to start with your 3 year vision and understand what you need to do this year to work towards that vision and then who will do the work this year to get it done.

Sensing has its advantages but can have disadvantages too.  It is hard work practicing to be out of your tendencies but it will pay dividends in your leadership.

Which category are you in?  S?  N?  How does your natural tendency tend to help you as a leader?  Hurt you as a leader?

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Understanding Yourself to Become a Better Leader – The Power of ‘I’

Part 1 of 4

This is part of a series of posts about understanding yourself and your personality in order to become a better leader.  There are many tools that can be used for personality assessments.  The company I currently work for uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  There are many other personality assessment tools available, but I have found this tool to be pretty accurate for me.  The MBTI is broken up into 4 segments with results placing the participant in one of two categories based on the responses the the questions in the survey.  My results showed that I am an ISTJ.  Getting my results have caused me to do a lot of reflection over the last year and a half on how I can use this information to become a better leader.  I thought I would share my reflection and understanding of the results.

This is part 1 of 4 – Introverts and Extroverts

Introverts (I) - get energy through reflecting on information, ideas, and/or concepts

Extroverts (E) - get energy through interacting with people and/or doing things

My reflections have been centered around being an ‘I’.  Some of the introvert tendencies are:

  • Prefer small group or 1-on-1 interactions
  • Harder to get to know
  • Don’t feel the need to talk in social situations or large groups
  • Sharp distinctions between friends and acquaintances
  • Prefer to stay in the background

I find all this true as an introvert.  There are some advantages of this tendencies as well as disadvantages (same is true for extroverts).   One advantage I have found is my strength to build one-on-one relationships with people is very good from a coaching aspect.  I take great interest in the people that I am coaching and take a great interest in their success.  Introverts can be very good at building strong relationships that have great influence on the person they are coaching.  Where this can be a disadvantage, is it takes more time to reach a greater audience of people.  An introvert can influence a smaller number of people in the one-on-one setting but have a harder time influencing a larger group.  Influencing a larger group means coming from the background to the foreground and becoming easier to know or putting yourself out there.

There are a few of ways I have worked on influencing larger groups.  One way was to lead many kaizen events with people from many different levels of the organization.  This put in front of a large group and forced me to interact and open up with them.  I also concentrate on being an active participant during staff meetings.  A third way is to give tours/presentations about projects, lean transformations, etc….  This was very uncomfortable at first but has started to become a comfort zone with each time I do it.

I have found that as I get better at influencing with a large group, my one-on-one strength has an even bigger effect.  For example, when I participate in the discussion, even for a moment, in a staff meeting it starts my peers thinking about what I said because they know I don’t talk a lot so when I do they seem to listen.  After the meeting, they may start a one-on-one conversation that plays to my strength and now I am influencing another person that I wasn’t before the meeting.

As leaders we should be aware that just because someone is an introvert and exhibits these tendencies does not mean they are not good leaders.  Traditionally, organizations look for leaders that can command the room or are outgoing.  Don’t over look the power of the ‘I’.  They may not be the best in large group settings but with great relationships they may get everyone to follow them into battle.

Which category are you in?  I?  E?  How does your natural tendency tend to help you as a leader?  Hurt you as a leader?

Note: My post is based on my personality type being an introvert.  Extroverts can learn to have introvert tendencies just like I have learned to have extrovert tendencies.  It just isn’t natural for extroverts and takes some learning and practice like it did for me.


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