Motivation, Workplace

Bullies in the workplace – How they affect productivity?

Have you ever experience one of the following in your workplace: personal attacks like yelling or threats? Insults or laughing at you when you fail? Spreading rumors, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public? Unrealistic deadlines or being pushed 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 insecure, or jealous. It is unable to do his/her job or not feel competent enough to be successful.

The consequences of this behavior go from personal issues to productivity loss. Personal issues include health complications, self-esteem, or emotional. Targets are very skilled, highly competent people with a lot of technical knowledge. It can be a new employee who has been very successful in a similar role, with years of experience. Likable people or those prone to support continuous improvement initiatives are also targets.

I have been a witness to 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 and your focus. It makes you feel that if you are successful enough; you will be the next target. Bullying creates stress, which is a source of hypertension, depression, and anxiety. Sickness creates attendance problems. Work accumulation, not meeting due dates, and customer issues are caused by attendance.

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

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. No lean journey will be successful if we allow bullying. Respect for the people is the most important mindset for continuous improvement and bullying is not part of it.

Motivation, Workplace

What can I do to keep my team together?

These days, manufacturing job candidates’ offer is not enough for the demand. Lose experience is critical for the plant operation. The continuous improvement journey is affected as well. Many experienced employees started to retire, which makes retention more important than ever. Whatever happened 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, where their ideas and needs matter. A place where they have the tools they need to do their work without safety issues or hassles.

Many new hires are millennials. What are they looking for in their workplace? They want to have a meaningful job, a place where they can make a difference. They also want to grow, learn and feel other people care about them. Millennials want to have a peer, mentor, or somebody who helps and advice not just train them. They are looking for companies that commit to their development the same way they will commit to the company.

What is common to everybody is the need to feel good, respected and that their leaders care about them. People appreciate working in a positive environment where they feel trusted and listened to. They want to feel the trust to talk about what affects their work performance.

This trust does not appear out of the blue, it is built over time. When somebody from the team is struggling, let’s remember them that all of us have bad times. Encourage them to overcome those issues, do not try to diminish them. 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. For some high skill, critical positions it is easy for new hires to feel overwhelmed. There is too much to learn in a short period. High levels of stress can hurt performance. This is a perfect time to encourage communication. Reassure them to ask not just about procedures and policies but about how they feel as human beings.

The supervisor has the burden of making the employee feels appreciated, but the manager plays an important role. 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, and what they need. Clarify what the job priorities are. It is important to clarify that nobody expects them to know everything. Encourage them to make questions, and clarify doubts.

Onboarding is not the only time for this kind of conversation. You already build the foundation for a respectful relationship with your employees. A relationship based on trust, do not stop listening or caring about their needs or concerns. Stopping will means the end of it.

There is no guarantee that this will incline the scale towards a stay in the company vs. leaving. But, it will help to keep them on the job rather than leaving. Do you want to keep your team together? Start by listening and being sensitive to their needs.

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 of 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 an 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 they 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.


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.

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 in your onboarding process and provides 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 aligned 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 onboarding is successful and show respect by establishing a good foundation for the employee’s success.  Nothing better for a good employee-employer relationship than to start with a well-designed training created with the employee on the mind.