Continuous Improvement, Training Program

Delegation done right

For years I heard what some considered a wonderful piece of advice if you have too many things to do, or you don’t like to do something, delegate!  Some people delegate only if it is completely necessary because they are buried on work.  Sometimes delegation comes after the realization that you can ask somebody to do what you hate so much.  Either one of these reasons is wrong.

Many leaders don’t delegate citing reasons like lack of time for training, it is easier or faster if they do it, the belief that only them has the necessary skill set to complete the task or the fear of not meeting deadlines or not accomplishing the expected results.  I used the same excuses to not delegate but then I realize that delegation is an excellent tool to promote the growth of our employees.  If it is done right, it is also perfect to gain some extra time that we can use for continuous improvement activities.

Once you decided to use delegation as part of your team development, the first step is to decide which tasks can be delegated and which ones cannot.  Identify those tasks that even if you hate them, you are the only one that can do them.  Only you can group tasks based on criticality, level of sensitivity or confidentiality, skill level and effort.

When you delegate you are not transferring the responsibility of completing a task, you are still responsible for it.  You are also responsible for setting up your employee for success.  Start by matching the necessary skills to complete the task with those of your employees and choose the one that matches better.  Once you identify who to delegatee, the next step is to sit down with he or she to have an honest talk about why you want to delegate and why to he or she.  Explain the development opportunities but do not hide the challenges coming with it.  Never let your employee alone on this journey, design a basic training program and execute it.  Do not pretend to dictate every step of the way, allow your employee to think on his/her own and develop his/hew own way to do it, trust but verify.

As part of the training, set up expectations, what needs to be done and how milestones and due dates.  Also provide instructions, contact names and information if necessary and establish follow-up dates to make sure everything is on track.

Delegation done right can be excellent for both parties, but make sure that you are delegating and not just assigning a task.  Delegating is one of the core concepts of management leadership. The person who delegated the work share the responsibility for the outcome with the person doing the work. By delegating you enables the person doing the work to decide how to achieve it, gives he or she the authority to do the job and offers opportunities to develop new skills. If none of these happen then you are just assigning a task.

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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 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.

 

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.

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 shows no respect or care, people stop respecting them and after that their commitment 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 commitment are contagious, let’s spread it!

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!