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 rumours, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public, unrealistic deadlines or being push to complete a task for which you have not being trained.

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

Consequences from this behavior goes 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 on a similar role, likeable people or with a lot of technical knowledge and/or experience.  Targets are usually the kind of people who is more prone to support continuous improvement initiatives.

I have been witness of this kind of behavior, it is horrible.  It not only affect the target but the people around as well.  It takes away your peace of mind, your focus and make 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 wont 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, loosing focus and decreasing morale.  The whole situation creates a hostile work environment which is a step away from possible law suits.  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 committment.

As leaders, we need to be in the look out for bullies and stop their behavior, for the benefit of our employees.  It is our responsibility to promote a health 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 mind-set for continuous improvement and bullying is a disrespectful behavior.

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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.

 

Continuous Improvement

Do you care?

When top leaders don’t care, why employees will?  My first couple of weeks on a new job are always dedicated to learn about the culture, processes and identify the opportunities and challenges of the place.  Every business unit has its own KPI’s and regardless how good or not, the department is performing against those KPI’s always is critical to have the people support to be able to improve.  People will not be engaged with any improvement process or support any changes if they are not treated with respect and see honest desire to change the status quo, not just “make the numbers”.

Sometimes, you don’t even need to be a problem solving expert to get better results.  What you need is to be consistent with your message, you need to talk the talk but more importantly walk the talk.  If you are enforcing housekeeping rules or clean as you go mentality but you walk over trash and don’t even say something to somebody to clean it up, you are delivering a contradictory message.  A better message will be if you pick it up yourself or help the people who will come to do it.

When you stop to say hi to your operators, try to know them and talk not just about what they are doing but about how they are doing it and how the feel, you show them that you care about the human being.  If you approach them for positive enforcement and not just to say that they can do something different they will listen every time.

If you are consistent with your message and how you act, your team will learn to do the same, you will lead them by example.  If you show that you care, they will care.  The contrary is also true, if you don’t care about what is going on, they will not care either.  You want to change attitudes and behaviors? start with your own, show your commitment and priorities and your team will follow you.

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.

Training Program

Why a job description is important?

Whenever you are evaluating if you are a good fit for that position posted on the bulletin board or you have been promoted, the job description is your best ally to learn the primary functions of the job, required qualifications including physical, work conditions and relationship with other positions.  This document plays an important role on your on boarding process and provide the basis for future performance appraisals.

If you are the hiring manager, the job description (JD) will be a great tool to communicate all the critical information regarding the position.  Clear and complete information detailing the responsibilities and expectations of the job are very important to minimize or eliminate confusion and the feeling of not knowing the expectations.  A  JD is also a legal document, you want a well written JD to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) or in case an employee files a lawsuit.

To ensure the job description is align with the company goals and culture, I like to incorporate it into the training program, being the spine of the training program design.  In a continuous improvement or lean culture, the job description includes the skills and requirements to support the activities associated with it.  Every task needs to be covered during training, this is a good way to ensure the on boarding is successful and show respect by establishing a good foundation for the employees success.  Nothing  better for a good employee-employer relationship than to start with a well designed training created with the employee on mind.