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 work place 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 work place?  They want to have a meaningful job, a place where they can make the 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 to work 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 on boarding 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 have the burden on 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 expect 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 stay in the company vs. leaving but for sure can help to keep the team together.

 

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Workplace

Is your job making you sick?

Unless you won the big lottery prize or are insanely millionaire, you have to go to work everyday.  A few people is lucky and have a job that they love.  My grandpa use 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 keep them from walking out?  Most of the time, their responsibilities like family and/or debts convinced them of 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 everyday?  That is a question we need to ask ourself, a deep analysis of our daily practices, how we treat our employees.  Are we supporting and helping them to be successful on their jobs?  Do we show respect?  Do we care to listen to their concerns and treat them as human beings and not just commodities?

Everyday when you wake up, your first though 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 on 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 on 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 has 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 hobbie, spend more time with family.

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

Motivation, Workplace

Is it better together?

“The running thread through my career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together in collective effort, things change for the better,” President Obama

Do you remember when you were a child and your parents ask you to clean your room?  Not that you wanted to do it but if you had to do it anyway you wanted to do it your way.  But you mother insisted in telling you where you have to store every action figure, every puzzle, every little thing you have.  After a short but intense struggle you end up doing what she said.

When we are trying to improve a process, most of the time we feel the urgency to jump straight to the answer without even asking what happen.  That same urgency push us to tell people what we think has to be done without asking for their input.  Imposing ideas in the work place is never a good way to improve the process much less the work environment.  It is just like the children following his mother’s instructions with reluctance, not a single intention of make it work.

A visit to the gemba is never complete without interaction with the employees. Observation of the process is critical but when the time comes to ask for why’s, do not ask yourself or other managers, ask the person(s) doing that process.  Even if the answer is obvious, you need to engage the employees by asking with respect, guiding them through the root cause analysis process.  Allow them the chance to express their ideas and proof them right.  If they were wrong, still there is a learning process.  Take the learn lessons with you and guide them through a start over.

The more people participate from this process, more and better ideas will come through and together we will change things for the better.  That is the spirit of a problem solving people focused workplace.

 

Workplace

Why diversity is necessary?

cats-and-dogsDuring these days diversity in our work areas is more relevant than ever.  The entire nation is talking about diversity, some believe that is what make this nation great, and others think different.

One of the first courses for my master degree was organizational leadership.  To pass the class, we had to analyze a merge from the company’s culture point of view.  I chose the merge between two technology companies.  I started by reading everything I got about the buying company culture, and it was pretty clear that they belief in a diverse workforce.  They believe that their competitive advantage is achieved through their people and that they drive innovation through diversity.  Those statements were the first time I recognized there is something called diversity.

Many times after that I read about the advantages of having people from different backgrounds, race, nationality or gender together, like for example in this article from McKinsey & Company, Catalyst.org and  Industry Week.  If we only associate with people with our same believes and point of view, we will never grow, we will never learn.  We all need the exposition to different ideas.  We need to force ourself to listen to ideas coming from people from another country, from a different political party or maybe just with a different neighborhood.  Some of those ideas or points of view may teach us something, may help us to see the world through a different color glass.

In our work areas it is particularly important to have people with different beliefs, different gender, a cross-cultural team that stop the group from falling prey of alike thinking.  No diversity means seeing the world from one color glass only, always the same think, no variety.  The group will never try to break the status quo because nobody see the necessity to do it, condemn to repeat the same mistakes over and over because nobody think different.

During my lean journey, the best ideas almost always come from the most unlikely person, the one that does not know “anything” about the process, the one exposed to a different environment, or  with a work experience on a different industry.  Perhaps come from the most quiet person, that one that does not like to talk or feel fear to do so.

During brainstorming sessions it is common to see the think alike group trying to shut people with completely different ideas.  They will go nuts to hear the “crazy” proposition, they won’t let the person talk.  We have to develop a thicker skin, learn to listen even when we don’t like or agree.  Every idea needs to be discussed for its own merits, with facts not emotions.

Our companies, neighborhoods and countries are better and stronger when we embrace diversity and tolerance,.  Not accepting it, is like walking with a blindfold, we will miss half of the great things we have around.