Blog Archives

What Experiences Are You Giving Your Employees?

People behave based on their experiences at work and in life.  If a person has been mistreated by someone close to them, it may be hard for them to trust others.  If a person is being told how valuable they are to the company, then people may have a positive attitude when going to work.

I worked with a group a few years ago during an improvement event that had bad experiences with past managers on trying new things.  The team had no problem identifying a lot of great improvement ideas.  When I said it was time to start working on implementing them, they sat and stared at me with confused looks.

The team refused.  Thy said it was not their place.  The manager would not allow it.  After five minutes of discussion and no progress, I called the manager into the improvement event.

I asked him, in front of the team, if it was alright if the team tried the suggested improvements.  The manager said, “Absolutely.  We can test anything the team believed would help.”

It still took a few minutes to convince the team, but in the end they made the improvements and started becoming more engaged.

The team had so many bad experiences they were guarded and didn’t trust the new manager.  The team finally got a new, positive experience and mindsets slowly began to change.

What experiences are you giving your employees?  Are they experiences to exhibit the behavior you want to see out of them?


Guest Post: The Importance of a Quality Management System

Today’s post comes from Alice Rose.  Alice is a freelance copywriter working for QMS International plc, a business certification company specializing in ISO 9001

As the recession hit many businesses began to think of the best ways to cope and short-term solutions such as cutting staffing levels and reducing marketing costs were some of the most popular. But, as time has progressed and consumers are still being very cautious with their spending, I want to touch on some other ways that you can try and beat the big squeeze.

What is a quality management system?

A Quality Management system is the processes, procedures, organizational structure and resources that come together to ensure that a business provides a consistent and reliable service. It emphasizes different principles within a business such as leadership, continual improvement, staff involvement and different approaches to decision making.

It’s all about the consumer

The first thing to remember is that if you provide a great product or a brilliant service to the consumer then they are going to keep coming back. One way to check that your company is running a high quality business is to put a quality management system into place. Quality management systems often incorporate a ‘customer service’ element to them, ensuring that there are procedures in place so customers can record a complaint which means that issues can be addressed and reduced in the future.

Manufacturing industry

If you are manufacturing a product there are certain steps that you can take to ensure that the final product will arrive with the consumer in a high quality state. This can start at the beginning of the production chain, in the factory for example. Simple tasks such as ensuring your workplace is clean will lead to the creation of a better final product. As the product progresses along the chain if simple manufacturing tasks are conducted in a more streamlined fashion the consumer is more likely to receive a high quality product – which will also lead to less waste on your part, reducing costs.

Service industry

The services industry is not immune to the economic downturn and there are simple changes that your company can take to ensure that the customers are still happy. One of the simplest ways to find out if you are providing a good service is by encouraging customer feedback – if you know where you are falling down it’s easier to pick yourself back up.

Setting an example

It is important that quality management systems are considered as a priority by business management who have the facility and knowledge to implement these systems and who, leading by example, will encourage greater productivity and performance across the board as well as locating new areas of the business for growth.

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2011 – Squawk Point

I have the honor of participating in this year’s Blog Carnival Annual Blog Roundup.  The roundup is hosted by John Hunter at the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog.

Today’s blog, Squawk Point, is the first of three blogs I will review.  The blog is hosted by James Lawther.  James is a middle manager that has held many roles within operations.

James approached me earlier this year about his blog.  I am glad he did because I hadn’t seen it before.  James does a very nice job of making his points clearly and with some humor and great analogies.

The blog is split into three categories: Operations Analysis, Process Improvement and Employee Engagement.

Operations Analysis touches on subjects such as Statistical Process Control.  One example is knowing when things have changed.

In Process Improvement, James takes on topics like Man vs. Machine.  When is it alright to ask a machine to do something in place of a man or to ask a man to co something instead of a machine.

James tackles Employee Engagement issues.  A great post was about how to measure employee performance.

If you haven’t read Squawk Point, I encourage you to give it a try.

Article Roundup

In the spirit of other blog sites, especially the Management Carnival, I thought I would share some links to a few blogs that found very interesting over the last month or so.  I hope you enjoy them.

A Tough Obituary to Write by Bill Waddell – This is a different perspective on the passing of Steve Jobs.  This is a point of view I had thought about writing but Bill beat me to the punch and I didn’t want to redo something he had written so well.

Building Your Personal Value Proposition by Bill Barnett – A great post about understanding yourself and what you are interested in.  Use that knowledge to know where you fit in a company and build your personal value.

Encourage Talent If You Want It To Grow by Steve Roesler – Steve hits on some great points to help grow talent through encouragement.  Even when you feel an employee is doing what they should be doing it is good to encourage them.

Building Manager Standard Work by Jamie Flinchbaugh – This blog will link to his full article at Industry Week.  Don’t but a process in place for something that already has a process like check email every day at lunch.

Planning On Not Knowing by David Kasprzak – We won’t always know what do to next but that shouldn’t stop us from planning.  Plan in spots to review and determine what to do next.

Manufacturing Skills Gap or Management Skills Gap by John Hunter – If the people don’t have the manufacturing skills they need is that their fault?  Or do we have a gap in our management skills?

Assembly Mag Thinks Whirlpool is Lean. Really. by Kevin Meyer – This is about Whirlpool and the fake lean.  It hit home because I grew up in Evansville and watch the decline of Whirpool.

Gaing Confidence Through Learning

My daughter has been a member of the Girl Scouts for 4 years now (2 as a Daisy and 2 as a Brownie).  Being November it is that time of year.  We are out in the neighborhood selling Girl Scout Cookies.  While as a father, I can’t say I’m always excited to go door-to-door selling things but the Girl Scout troupe my daughter is a part of does some great things for the girls.

This year I have noticed a big change in my daughter.  Normally she is a very quite and shy person.  Last year when we sold cookies I would have to practically pull her out from behind me to talk to the people and I ended up doing most of the speaking.  This year is a huge change.  She does almost all the talking and I stand at the bottom of the steps while she is at the door.  She has come out of her shell and is more forward.

It has been a long journey to help her come out of shell.  Giving her a huge safe learning zone has been part of the key.  The Girl Scouts do that for her.  Also, when we are at Fast Food restaurants we have her go up and ask for refills or condiments without us being there.  When she does we make a big deal out of it.  Over time this has given her confidence and it is starting to really show during the door-to-door sales this year.

As managers and leaders, we have to help our employees come out of their shell or safe zone and into the learning zone.  When we do that our employees will gain more and more confidence.  The more confidence they gain the better results and more creative problem solving will occur.

Giving adults as well as children a safe and big learning zone helps them to gain confidence in what they are doing.  It is our job to help give them a safe learning zone.

As for my daughter, I can’t wait to see how this translates to the basketball court this winter!

Leadership By Shift

Being in manufacturing for my whole career, I have to work with shifts around the clock.  I know this is quite common in the manufacturing environment.  The other common practice I have seen is 1st shift is considered the place to put the ‘A’ player supervisors and line management team.  The 2nd and 3rd shifts is considered ‘B’ and ‘C’ players plus the new hires.  I have seen this play out in the many manufacturing facilities I have been in.

Why is this?  Why not put an even mix of ‘A’ players across the shifts?

I would think 2nd and 3rd shift would be a good spot for the best supervisors because there isn’t other management at the facilities during this time to help out.  The best supervisors would be good at covering more areas.  Also, it allows all the shifts to have someone that is a go to person.  If they are all on 1st shift, then things just sit and wait until someone comes into work.

Most manufacturing facilities put the new hires on 3rd shift to start (after their training).  Who would you want to have be there for the new hire?  A supervisor everyone things is doing a great job?  Or a supervisor that can barely do their own job?

I’m not saying that if they aren’t an ‘A’ supervisor to fire them.  There will always be someone doing better than someone else.  We should just consider spreading the best supervisors across shifts to give it a balance for learning and responsibility.

How does your organization place supervisors?  Are all the best on 1st shift?  Or are they equally spread across multiple shifts?