Continuous Improvement, Workplace

Everything will be ok

As leaders, there are countless ways we influence our teams.  As human beings, there are countless ways we can influence our teams.  Leadership is a key element in continuous improvement initiatives, those who can manage their emotions are likely to be more engaged in their work.

Our mood is different every day; and our energy level, positivism, and focus will be affected by it.  As leaders, we cannot let our emotions control our actions.  The workplace is full of opportunities to derail our continuous improvement efforts; different levels of engagement within our team, roadblocks in the form of people who do not believe, machine downtime, last-minute orders, absenteeism, lack of support from management and toxic work environments.  How we manage those challenges will determine the success of our efforts, but more important is the way we manage our emotions.

People are watching our reaction every time something arise, positive reactions will influence positive behavior in our team.  The ability to react on a positive way is a learned behavior, requires practice.  The more we learn how to identify and understand our emotions the more we learn about how those emotions influence our behavior and ultimately how we can control and use them in our favor.  Those who understand their emotions can capitalize on them to overcome obstacles keeping a good mood and modeling positive behaviors.

The ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others is known as emotional intelligence (EI) and is a very important trait for leadership success.  People with a high degree of EI know what they are feeling, what their emotions mean, and how they can affect other people.  Every day will come with a different challenge, sometimes the same challenge over and over; emotional intelligence is what helps us to work with them expecting a positive outcome every time.  Keeping your cool when things go differently from expected is not an easy task but if you can manage to do it, your team will learn how to do it too.  A good leader is also honest, there are times on which expecting a good outcome is impossible.  When we hit those, it is ok to accept it, regroup, make a new plan and keep going.

How to keep yourself calm on difficult situations is a huge challenge, in my humble opinion (by no means an expert opinion) is that everything comes down to how well you know yourself.  The critical step is to know your emotions, to identify how you feel and learn how to control your feelings.  When I recognize that I need time to control myself, I take a walk.  Waking through the plant, talking with people almost always make me feel better, helps me to calm down and gain a different perspective.  Sometimes I even talk about the situation with them, and the conclusion is that everything will be alright.  Train the mind to use positive words and stay clear from negative ones is a way to keep you and your team moving in the right direction.

 

 

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Motivation, Workplace

Bullies in the workplace – How they affect productivity?

Have you ever experience one of the following on your workplace:  personal attacks like yelling or threats, insults, laughing at you when you fail, spreading rumors, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public, unrealistic deadlines or being the push to complete a task for which you have not been trained.

Those are examples of bullying, and it does exist in the workplace.  The perpetrator can be someone who feels threatened, is jealous, insecure, unable to do his/her job or not feel competent enough to be successful.

Consequences from this behavior go from personal issues (health complications, self-esteem, emotional) to productivity loss.  Targets are very skilled people, highly competent, perhaps a new employee who has been very successful in a similar role, likable people or with a lot of technical knowledge and/or experience.  Targets are usually the kind of people who are more prone to support continuous improvement initiatives.

I have been a witness of this kind of behavior, it is horrible.  It not only affects the target but the people around as well.  It takes away your peace of mind, your focus and makes you feel that if you are successful enough; you will be the next target.  It creates stress, which we all know is a source of hypertension, depression, and anxiety.  Sickness creates attendance problems, work will accumulate, due dates won’t be met, maybe will affect customers.

This cost money:  higher absenteeism rate usually creates over time and more use of medical insurance will increase premiums and compensation claims.  The team stress level increases, losing focus and decreasing morale.  The whole situation creates a hostile work environment which is a step away from possible lawsuits.  Eventually, bullying targets resign and with he or she, the motivation to work and practice continuous improvement goes out of the door too.  And what is worst, the bully stays and with he/she stays the fear, incompetence, inefficiency, and lack of commitment.

As leaders, we need to be in the lookout for bullies and stop their behavior, for the benefit of our employees.  It is our responsibility to promote a healthy work environment and bullying is the opposite of that.  No lean journey will be successful if we allow this kind of behavior, respect for the people is the most important mindset for continuous improvement and bullying is disrespectful behavior.

Motivation, Workplace

What can I do to keep my team together?

These days the demand for candidates for manufacturing jobs is not enough for the demand.  Lose experience is critical not only for continuous improvement but for the plant successful operation.  Many experienced employees are starting to retire, therefore retention is more important than ever, whatever happen during their first ninety days can determine how long they stay.  What we have to do to keep our team minds away from thinking about getting a new job?  A good pay rate and benefits are important but they are not everything.

Employees are looking for a workplace where they are treated with respect, their ideas and needs matter and they have the tools they need to be able to accomplish their work successfully without safety issues or hassles.  New hires are mostly millennial, what are they looking for on their workplace?  They want to have a meaningful job, a place where they can make a difference.  They also want to grow, to learn, to feel that other people care about them:  their peers, a mentor, somebody who helps and advice not just train them on how to do their job.   They would like companies that commit to their development the same way they will commit to the company’s future.

The common thing between them is that they want to feel good, respected and that their leaders care about them.  People appreciate working in a positive environment where they feel trusted and listened.  In a respectful work environment, employees feel trust to talk with the supervisor about things on their personal lives that affect their work performance.  This trust does not appear out of the blue, needs to be built over time.  When somebody from the team is struggling, let’s remember them that all of us has bad times, encourage them to overcome those issues, do not try to diminish them but rather listened and let them the chance to vent.  Treat employees like people, not a commodity.

Training during onboarding is a great chance to start showing that you care about new hires and employees in general.  For some high skill, critical positions it is very easy for new hires to feel overwhelmed because there is too much to learn on a short period of time.  High levels of stress can have a negative impact on performance.  This is a perfect time to encourage communication not just about procedures and policies but about how they feel as human beings.

While the supervisor has the burden of making the employee feels appreciated on his/her new job, the manager plays an important role also.  Just a small chat with new employees to say hello and welcome them to the team is enough to establish a relationship.  Do not stop there, during the next couple of days or weeks talk with them again, this time ask how they feel, what they need, make clear what the job priorities are but also clarify that nobody expects them to know everything, asking questions is fine.  Encourage them to make questions, to clarify doubts, to talk with their supervisors about their concerns and if that does not work, then to feel free to talk with you.  There is no guarantee that this will incline the scale towards a stay in the company vs. leaving but for sure can help to keep the team together.

 

Workplace

Is your job making you sick?

Unless you won the big lottery prize or are insanely millionaire, you have to go to work every day.  A few people are lucky and have a job that they love.  My grandpa uses to say, make a living doing something you love and then you don’t have to work the rest of your life.  Easier said than done!

Most people have an ok job, they don’t love it but they are content with it, good salary, not a big hassle, stable.  There are others that wish every day to have a different job.  If they don’t like it, then what keeps them from walking out?  Most of the time, their responsibilities like family and/or debts convinced them to keep going.

When the daily struggle is so bad that you feel you hate your job, most probably your health is suffering either from the lack of good rest or from complications from it.  Not enough sleep can cause headaches, migraine, weight gain, mood swings, irritability, tummy problems, poor vision, and others.  We all know that stress is a source of hypertension, depression, and anxiety.

As leaders, we are responsible for the well-being of our employees, not just to provide a safe workplace.  What are we doing wrong that people just hate to go to work every day?  That is a question you need to ask yourself, a deep analysis of our daily practices, how we treat our employees.  Are we supporting and helping them to be successful in their jobs?  Do we show respect?  Do we care to listen to their concerns and treat them as human beings and not just commodities?

Every day when you wake up, your first thought should not be “I don’t want to go to work”.   If it is, maybe you have to try harder to get out of there because you are letting yourself to be trapped in a toxic situation that is making you sick.

Continuous Improvement, Workplace

New Year Resolutions

Many of us do it every year, keep up for a couple of weeks, maybe months and then forget about it.  Yup, I am talking about the New Year resolutions.  The resolution can be just about anything; the most popular are: exercise more, lose weight, eat more healthy and learn a new skill or hobbies.  The workplace is no different, although not as popular as resolutions for our private life, they can be great for us as well.

Here are a few ideas for workplace resolution:

  • Learn something new, get out of the office and take that training that you really want to have and never has time for it.
  • Step out of your comfort zone – ask to be transfer to another department or even a different location, follow your dreams, get out of the comfort zone and invest in your future.
  • Listen more – we spend so much time talking that sometimes tend to forget that listening is even more important.
  • Mentoring, coaching – We never have time to develop our staff, we need to make time and start developing those diamonds on the rough.
  • Make new contacts – leave early and participate from that get to together from your professional association, meet new people, you never know when you going to need those new contacts.
  • Make time for you – exercise, practice your hobbies, spend more time with family.

As professionals, we need to invest in us as much as we try to invest in our work areas.  Continuous improvement applies to individuals also, be an example for your people!