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.

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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.

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.

Continuous Improvement

Are we really doing root cause analysis?

During the staff meeting, one of our managers was talking about how a conveyor broke during start-up, causing downtime and thousands of pounds of product on hold due to possible foreign matter.  While he explained the results of their root cause analysis, on my mind I was keeping a tally of how many times I heard about it the last couple of months.

We have a continuous improvement program, posters everywhere with the “steps” for problem solving, forms to fill out during each one of those steps and finally on every single corrective action report there is a mention to the root cause analysis.  And yet, root cause analysis and problem solving are obviously not effective.

If you really want to get to the root of your problems, do not pick a solution and call it problem solving.  Guess the reason for a problem is not root cause analysis either, not even when you have a meeting to talk about the problem and all agree on what the reason could be.  Follow the process that better fit to your team, PDCA, DMAIC or other but follow it right.  Our employees are watching, our supervisors are frustrated for dealing with the same issue over and over, they are eager to learn how to make it stop.  We are responsible to show them the right path, take the lead and go to the gemba with them, see what is going on and do a real root cause analysis and problem solving session.

Continuous Improvement, Motivation

To lead your team so they can led you

It happens time after time, I feel down and our employees cheer me up!

As leaders, we are responsible for the lives of our employees but yet many of us don’t understand that important piece of our job.  When I started to work as a team leader, my father told me a couple of rules that he always followed himself.  His first rule was to always respect the people, never ask them to do something you are not willing to do yourself.  The second rule was to never forget that you are responsible for them, their security, their learning and their success.

Over the years I kept these rules as my north, nothing like practice to learn day by day how to be a better leader.  Through the years I learned that employees look up to their supervisors until they don’t.  When the supervisor show no respect or care, people stop respecting them and after that their committment and motivation are gone too.

I make a conscious effort every day to respect. lead, motivate, develop, recognize the good, teach the right way and never get complacent using continuous improvement as the road map to success.  Some days are better than others, but something of this is working because I have seen many of my employees to grow up to become great leaders.  I can tell the difference between employees that enjoy their jobs and those who do not.  When you find those employees on your way, their passion and attitude towards their work cheer you up.

Our job as leaders is to exercise our responsibility and keep working to positively affect the lives of our employees.  Motivation, positivism and committment are contagious, let’s spread it!