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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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, 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!

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!

Continuous Improvement, Lean Tools

Quality at the Source

I have seen it multiple times, there are problems in the production floor; a situation that happen very often and everybody is looking for a solution.  Very recently during a routine cycle count somebody read the label very carefully and realize the label did not match the product.  After verification of the product we found that the last three times we packed that product the wrong description was used on the label.  How it is possible that during four different production days the product had wrong information on the label and nobody picked up the problem.

Maybe we need to add an inspection point to verify the label, wait; we have quality inspectors coming once every hour to inspect some information of the label, not all of it.  Do we need more inspection? The question is, can the same person who changes the coder information, inspect the label right after choosing the new code?

Quality at the Source is a concept or tool where product quality is measured or inspected every step of the process.  If the operator of every step treats the next step operator as his/her customer, then they aim to deliver the customer the product they need, with the quality and quantity desired on time.  The use of specialized tools or technology help the operator to accomplish the quality expectations.  We can combine quality at the source with the use of Poka-yoke or “mistake-proofing” devices.

With employees participation the process of selecting the best process to ensure quality will be a good first step towards a problem solving and continuous improvement mentality.  After selection of the right process, training to all affected employees on who, when, where, what and how to perform the inspection is the second step.  Then we go to the plan execution and the subsequent analysis to determine if additional changes are necessary.  If no changes are necessary then the new process becomes the standard and quality at the source has been implemented.