We must change and evolve quickly in this new age of doing business. Competition has changed. Niche Markets and Emerging Market business, goes to those who adapt to it daily.
The new "Continuous Improvement" rule: "Teach everyone what it means for them to do a good job in teams for the full scope of their work together, and help them do it better today than yesterday, and get out of the way."
Today's Managers and Supervisors must change leadership style to correct problems born out of yesterdays practices...or deal with them like always, ever day...continually. Focus on building strong independent teams, skilled and trained to function autonomously. Give them tools, resources and advanced skills providing all means of support, breeding more of the same. Do this and employees will start moving faster, being creatively self sufficient and return surprising performances to get more work out right. If they weren't smart enough to do this in the first place, they never would have been hired.
After this, if things don't start to improve...
...then this wall
may not be such a bad idea after all.
Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil, does not work in business, and its never worked anywhere else. So how can we allow it to help us LOSE REVENUES?
Do companies simply ignore the apparent need to improve? Yes
Can any single person change it? Yes
Is it hard to do? Not if the powerful boss finds out who’s in the middle of it, how bad it is, who’s responsible for it, and asks, “Who Can Fix IT?”
It's simple; Quality and Continuous Improvement opportunities, can be seen and ignored by anyone.
It's better when "Quality and Continuous Improvement Awareness" starts and continues from "THE TOP ...DOWN." This in itself, spares the risk of the company suffering a severe bout of consequences, should employee disappointment begin to "Set-in" or spread. How would or could this happen and why...and what could be the damage?
When an employee notices anyone above their pay-grade repeatedly ignoring obvious problems, with machines, people, poor planning or execution, poor hand-offs or interdepartmental issues...still unresolved. It can grow into several large and very ugly monstrous problems on several fronts, and they don't go away by themselves, and they don't go nicely.
"HUGE MISTAKE WITH HUGE LOSSES THAT MAY BE INCALCULABLE"
Here's the short list, (limited to only the imagination)
Including but not limited to: loss of respect, lost collaborative opportunities and the now closed or more difficult line of communications, this also causes counts to drop right along with the morale. Peers pick up on it and follow suit with the the friends they work with, respect and have to get along with every day. How can you begin to tally up the dollars in costs to the company? It's Impossible, and this isn't even a complete list of all of the things that can go wrong...simply because, people walk around problems, while others watching it happen are probably the wants having to fight it all day long.
You'll never know how much you've lost or how much ground you could have covered down the better path...behind a leader who people want to follow!!
ATTN: PRESIDENTS, CEO'S, CFO'S Saint Louis Manufacturers:
Are reminders really needed to check the obvious? Yes, if it's still not right, and you repeatedly hear the same story about it directly or indirectly...repeatedly. If there is no voiced plan of corrective action or even options being discussed, how long is too long? Well how much money do you want to lose, until you hear that it's been fixed? NO MORE, right?
Middle managers take their cues from, and follow their executives lead. Do do anything but follow, may be risking their standing or state in the eyes of the boss. It could have them back carrying the golf bag behind their nemesis, raking their sand traps.
Middle managers are acutely aware how much each executive in the company wants to know, hear about or discuss. They've been shaped and formed by every past interaction as to what gets to the "Higher-Up's" and what should not or simply will not..
Executives may not want to bother with it, (meaning most any problem) which is what middle management is paid to hear about, know about and know hot to fix. It doesn't mean this is the best way to fun a company. It can be good or bad, depending on both, each problem when it occurs, and when and how well it's handled. It can run the gamut from being a lower or very high priority issue being dealt with...and middle managers are sensitive to when to ask for help, since they don't want it to fly back in their face for being unable to deal with, "since it's the job, they were hired to do." At times, they may cover for something, fight with it for a while, or even cover for it, while they figure out, at what point they should say, "I need help."
Executives who REASSURE their staff that THEY WANT TO KNOW the STATUS AND DETAILS OF ISSUES well before a costly trend is experienced, are treasured leaders and a very rare breed. The degree executives are proactive and involved with any significant call, determines what point middle management will update them and engage them and what is either "On" or "OFF limits" in general and specific terms.
Middle managers directly, indirectly or instinctively know they'll want to, need to, or have to head for that "Open Door."
If executives are behind more of a "Closed Door," how will that work?
The short version is: "Not So Good."
Executives who are too busy, or too unavailable, by choice or circumstances...it carries the same affect: Those middle managers will fight with the "When" of exactly when they will knock on that door. " IF they get it wrong, or they've screwed up for too long and things got out of hand, (meaning; maybe a sizable mistake was made or a costly one,) knocking on that door won't give them a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Instead, they'll take a gulp, walk to the door, and their KNEES may knock louder than them tapping on the door lightly. If they know they'll have to break down the door, because they've already been there or had it slammed in their face before, and God forbid, it wasn't on the same problem that they already asked for help with, but if so, they'll know that "THEY'D BETTER BE LOADED FOR BEAR,"
Great Exec's may take only minutes for full updates which gives them good pallet to paint the broad strokes of the big picture and how everything and everyone needs to appear, as realistic as they need to be. These guys can make a plant run better. They are highly regarded and deeply appreciated leaders. They can move mountains, because everybody's happy to help them do it.
IF YOU ARE ONE OF THESE LEADERS; Then you may be done reading after one final compliment in the next paragraph.
For those lucky enough to be able to honestly say, ,"...everything I've read so far...I've already got handled."
If it's "All Good" now, your thoughts will repeat this confirmation with "That Still Small Voice" you like to hear saying; "We got this!!" If not yet, and your trying...it's on the way and you'll hear it soon.
Free Tips to improve your plant quality and efficiency...starting today.
Checking today's report of yesterdays production...good idea!
What's next? Use them and make them count.
Tracking and providing objective feedback data in percentages of efficiency for both good and bad performance can never be done too early or too often. It cannot be done on too wide of a scale with all employees at any level, or within any role.
Anyone missing the opportunity to know, have, give or receive prompt and accurate feedback is a disservice to the company. Whether knowingly or unwittingly in doing so, they hinder responsible stewardship efforts to control costs. The resulting loss and rising costs will be felt and identified and experienced in tangible proof and intangible measures of potentially perpetual and compounding latent power left untapped, remaining dormant until rediscovered and reengaged.
Can you imagine and make a list of the ways your company may be impacted? Challenge yourself in 1 minute to make a list which will probably be surprisingly far-reaching that may total in considerable dollars lost or saved.
Objective evaluations limited to only this objective data alone, takes only seconds and pays off exponentially in traceable and provable benefits.
If you identify a dollar loss between an 80% per hour rate and the 100% achievable standard rate; multiply that by each employee and/or machine or process at work, all day and every day for a week, and continue if you dare…to continue that through the months to a year, and you’ll probably have a hard time forgetting the importance of keeping people promptly and accurately informed as to how they are doing. Again…doing this objectively only takes seconds, and can be done in a number of effective and creative ways.
Add this impact to the potential within insightful and helpful management and supervision, clarifying distinctions in a subjectively effective way working with employees, and you’ve “Changed the World for the Better,” yours, theirs and the company’s included. No nose bleeds or hurt feelings, no pain…just gain!!
How many tangible and intangible benefits are realistically possible if objective, accurate, appropriate and prompt feedback is shared and awareness heightened, with those who are performing the work and those responsible for it?
Number of Benefits: Take 2 minutes to scratch down a rough guess: _____________________
How it is handled is critical, yet surprisingly simple and easy to do well.
Do any of those benefits hold a potential for being perpetual or at least continuing for some period of time?
Which could compound in desirable residual effects by the work performed by other employees nearby?
It’s not magic, its principle put to action. Simple things more frequently overlooked just make more missed opportunities chalked up to and tallied with the corresponding production…as it continues.
You can email me with your list, and I’ll return a few more until I post a more extensive list.
A Word of Caution: Management is wise enough to know to double check for the reasons for standards not being met. Feedback goes both ways. None of the above advice will work or can work, until and after problems are assessed, identified, options are considered and corrective actions are taken.
You need real the actual feedback from watching and working with the processes, people and equipment to identify any lack of capacity or resources responsible for preventing your higher standards from being met or exceeded.
Employee cooperation, earned trust and confidence and willingness to share and work to uncover the underlying problems. Without it, you will only get resentment, which will only be harder to fix and may be far reaching than a non-inquiring mind never thought or tried to consider. Guard against causes like this, which shut down most avenues of continuous improvement efforts. Ignore this point, and risk the loss of respect of your employees, which carries a considerable number of monsters with multiple heads and teeth, nobody wants to tangle with.
If an employee falls down or faints from shock at your concern and offer to help with any of their problems…help them up, and know that you were there at just the right time. After getting your kisses and hugs, handshakes or a simple smile and nod of appreciation, keep each other updated, feedback lines open, and watch the numbers and appreciation for a good days work rise…at about the same pace.
If your company already is fantastically prompt at interacting and providing feedback to collaborative employees who give just as much back in return… great. If your employees would not agree, therein lies reason enough to check it, clarify it, and resolve the issues, while removing the reason(s) for the different points of view on the topic.
Great Leaders seeking continuous improvement keep learning, moving and growing. They quickly discover that it’s easier to do, and much more enjoyable journey, when the sights are set on helping their employees along the way.
EXECUTIVES MORNING WALK: It shouldn’t be a superficial or cursory walk to act or project any posturing. This act fools no one, and it’s commonly transparent and openly mocked. It’s hard to fake this.
If it's a busy day and everybody's backed up scan for the flow, any bottlenecks, usual concerns checked /ignored, startups or changeover progress, before passing by anything significant or small but wrong...back up a few steps, and take a closer look.
Pointed out, it’ll be fixed fast, if you don’t care to pitch in yourself to double the impact increasing the need for more awareness, concern and responsible initiatives on the part of others close by. This will prevent a similar repeat performance. Nailing it may prevent a mistake or prevent an injury. Moreover, you may spare yourself and the company from those painful processes which only begin with an investigation and a report.
Don’t underestimate the power and impact of an Alpha Dog’s walk and “Look-See” around their territory. It can be good or bad, productive or it could be called “Silly.” A few deliberate points to address legitimate concerns, goes a long way in every direction fast. When you have a “Hero” or “Champion Advocate” in an executive position visiting you on any level of frequency, with genuine and sincere interest…when they clue you in with that nod or smile, very few words more than this, is rarely needed.
Plant wide compliance to all things better, comes faster when everyone is on their best game. ...at least on those things you noticed. Supervisory enjoying this kind of respect, response and attentiveness are even more priceless since they are serving in such a manner continually.
During your walk: Recall what you saw or recently heard, about someone or their work, which was simply good or amazing, doing that little bit extra, for no apparent reason other than, that's just who they are.
Your appreciation goes a long way.
Search for it, represent it and notice and acknowledge it others: Engage, Encourage and Inspire all peers and coworkers around you, while appealing to their better self! This is everyone's job. Acknowledge and support those who've probably been doing this all along and maybe all alone...for some time.
Make sure the totals in your Quarterly Reports, Earnings and Dividend Releases as well as your Annual and Proxy Reports, are on track to grow your company by 10 to 20 percent.
If you are the best in your industry and deserve your sizeable market share... then congratulations! You probably got there by managing amazing challenges with huge strides of bold changes, when it would have been easier to just coast along and just get by. Well done.
Is your company 2nd in your manufacturing niche working hard and on the way to be number one, and deserve to be? If so then this advice should serve you well for doing a "Check-up, from the Neck-Up" on how well your company pursues Continuous Improvement Opportunities.
Keep everyone headed in that direction while looking for creative ways to greater serve a new or expansive list of services. Do this for your current client base and those soon to come, as you earn and carve out a greater portion of your emerging market share.
Does your manufacturer track and account for both types of labor time; direct and indirect? The status of both, trends and summaries are priceless if monitored and put to good use.
It is easy to keep top leadership close when there is teamwork working well in all departments.
During your walk, when the numbers are up and an employee notices leadership watching their workmanship, skill and productive day, most any appropriate topic of the next big opportunity of value or concern from an employee willing to help…is on the table for discussion. Their eyes, ears and hands are closer always, to not keep the lines open to listen or be approachable, shuts down unknowable possibilities.
Efficiency in action, making great progress, confirmed by the quality and numbers, brings everyone out to the floor, which rings like a team celebrating their fullest potential good, in appreciation, together. When’s the last time this happened? It shouldn’t be a rare occurrence.
Feedback performance numbers coupled with full knowledge and recounts of wise supervisory awareness and oversight, work together to paint the true picture of how employees perform.
Converting performance results to dollars can reflect a great report card for everyone. Supervisors are wise to acknowledge genuinely exceptional and competent team members in meetings and in person. Missing the chance to acknowledge remarkable does not help inspire more of the same.
Respond to and change current quality and efficiency performance today, while assessing and communicating the value of performances of yesterday's trends to ensure the greater performance tomorrow.
Keep them in the loop: Executive Leadership is too far away to ask about or effectively deal with, if they are not kept fully and appropriately up to date and informed.
A post it note with a single phrase describing action taken and a circle around a number...may be all an employee or executive needs, to change or help change something. Promote awareness and keep ALL people adequately informed.
As an employee; if limited in resources to do your job, or if there is an issue you’re not sure how to tackle, or worried you'll get zinged for it, you are probably not alone. Don't give up or get discouraged quickly or easily. The right solution is on the way, and it will come to you.
If you are good at your job, then in the eyes of a company who strives for continuous improvement, management most times is surprisingly more open than not. Supervisors ignoring this principle…rarely get the consistent, exceptional counts, extra effort or even “a heads up” on something that may be wrong…if they’ve previously ignored that employee or any other respected peer.
This supervisor “Missing the Boat” on this, may trip over the problem for a while before figuring it. Senior employees take pleasure in enlightening the eyes of their supervisor’s understanding. But won’t take the time to help a supervisor proven to mishandle such an effort.
Having a supervisor who’s beyond reproach in principle or in practice works in ways unknown to mankind. You can’t add up the number of good things that happen on their jobs, when they aren’t even around to watch. This type of great supervisor may be hidden somewhere within the one you currently have, and a good employee who’s insightful and respected enough, who’s also a bit of hero, can bring it right out in “Him or Her.” Don’t give up, or hold your breath, just keep looking for that right time to try.
Knowing that the right people know about the issue is important, before taking a position of being offended at an assumption like; "They couldn't care less." It's possible they don't know, or don't realize the importance of it, or maybe they don't understand it at all. Helping them aboard to show them your view, just may just take a different approach.
Top leaders with the power to assign a worth to such advice, and they have the full authority to act on it in a big way. Weighing what's happening now with what could happen should they choose to follow similar tips or lines of thought; Can shed a better light for them to clearly see practical ways to help expand and grow accordingly. At the very least, if you are searching being ever aware of opportunities to excel, this catching the spark of ideas from those around you at any place in the company, some positive changes will are always possible. A thoughtful and well planned, approved and effective solution, can make them almost probable.
It may start small but have far reaching latent power that deserved to be unbridled, unleashed and allowed to run "like Secretariat at the Belmont stakes"
I say they will do this and wish you much success and good luck along the way.
Simple Reminders, like a Touch Stone: How well would you rate your company in the subject area within your industry? Could it be improved upon? Call if you need help, or if you’re not sure.
Call for help with any plant quality or efficiency improvement challenge.
Whether you have a recurring chronic problem or issue with planning, equipment, a process, or team work suffering from a lack of communication, cooperation or collaboration, you have a resource to help turn this around.
Free phone consult to help assess and maybe quickly help you solve the problem yourself. Available until I find the right manufacturer with the wisdom at the top to pursue and back continuous improvements where ever the changes are needed.
Q/C Q/A Procedural Documentation, Quick Reference Designs for Processes, Operators, Equipment including Preparation-Start-up, Operations, Safety, Troubleshooting, Shutdown and Changeover or switch-outs.
(Sample Q/C Procedures for: Tool & Die, Plastics, Hydraulics, Assembly, Welding, Print/Mail or any Teamwork Driven Dependent Processes.)