The Number Three Motivator – “At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day”

Most of us have experienced the enjoyment of doing easily something that we’re good at. And most of us know how frustrating it can be to keep on trying things that we struggle to do well or to do at all. But from a management point of view, we often want people to be flexible / multi-skilled, and we often want people to learn new skills. So how can we achive these objectives and still keep people motivated? Here are some thoughts:

Allow for the “learning curve”. When we learn we often take a while to get the hang of a new skill, and sometimes we make mistakes along the way. Managers and leaders need to make reasonable allowances for this – provide extra time and try to correct or prevent errors as quickly as possible. We also need to make sure that learners adopt the “One Best Way” and not pick up bad habits from other employees.

Catch people doing things right! Look for opportunities to give positive feedback, rather than only focusing on what needs to be done better. Try to “sandwich” each slice of negative feedback between at least two “slices” of positive feedback.

We often focus on people’s weaknesses / things that they find difficult, and we try to get them to do these things better. But don’t neglect the opportunity to help people improve the things that they’re already good at. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to go from “good” to “outstanding” than it is from “acceptable” to “good”.

Make learning fun – create some friendly competition, publish a league table, recognise and reward improvements, get your most epxerienced folk to run some “this is what effortless skill looks like” demos.

Be honest, keep it fair and lead by example. Balance the easy tasks and the difficult tasks, and spread them out  fairly. Make clear that we all have to do things that we don’t like or that we struggle with, and show people that that’s what you do every day, because even you are not quite perfect yet!

The Number Two Motivator – “I have the tools and equipment I need to do my job right”

People want to do the job right and they expect to be provided with the right equipment so that they can do just that.

Sadly this is still a real wake-up call for some manufacturing owners and managers. Here’s my advice:

Tools that aren’t easy to handle and clothing or PPE that’s uncomfortable become a real problem after a 8- , 10- or 12-hour shift. If you’re serious about quality and serious about treating employees well, invest in good quality gear – go for good value not just the cheapest. Would you want to wear those cheap nasty safety shoes day after day, week after week?

BYOT (Bring Your Own Tools). Get with it folks – this is the 21st Century not the 19th! Do you really expect your people to buy and bring their own tools to work? How do you control the quality? What if a tool fails and injures someone? What about sharing tools? What about 5S shadow boards? What about theft and “borrowing”? In my view, employers need to supply all of the right kit to do the right job to the right standard. Period.

The Number One Motivator – “I know what is expected of me at work”

Expectations detemine outcomes, Expectations motivate us, Expectations keep us on track. So it’s no secret that the best organisations – and the most effective Leaders – are all over this.

So here are some simple tips – aimed here mainly at manufacturers.

Long-term: make sure everyone clearly undertands the common goals of the organisation and why you do what you do. Is there an answer to “Why am I here” and “What’s in it for me”?

Medium-term: spell out the three most important goals this year, this quarter. Back them up with SMART objectives for each and every team member (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timescaled).

Short-term: provide simple visual “target and actual” measures in each workplace. Every team member needs to see for themselves what’s required and how well they are doing. At the end of each shift / day / week every team member should know – without waiting to be told – how well they’ve done, and what they need to focus on next time.

What really motivates them (and us!) – part 1

“Bosses get the workers they deserve, and workers get the bosses they deserve!”. I first heard this at the age of 18 and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Far too often I hear “They’re only interested in money”, “You can’t motivate that lot”, “I / We / Managers / Directors are motivated by challenges, doing a good job, a sense of achievement… but that lot are only motivated by money – that’s all they’re here for!”

The reality is that most of us in the workplace are motivated by the same things, A huge amount of research has been carried out in the field of motivation but for me one of the most useful approaches – based on many years of research with thousands of employees – are the Top 12 Motivators.

“First Break all the Rules” is a great book that describes these Top 12 and I’d recommend it to anyone in a Leadership role. Let’s look first at Number 1 – the Top Motivator for most people:

“I know what’s expected of me at work”

This seems so simple and abvious that many folk I work with don’t actually believe it! But think about it for a moment. How desperate it can be when you really don’t know what you’re aiming to achieve. If your organisation and your boss don’t explain the “what and why” of your role, you don’t have anything to aim for and you feel directionless, lost, and not important.

So the first task of a Leader in any organisation is really simple – make it very clear to each and every person exactly what is expected of them, and why. It really is that simple!

Brexit – immediate actions for UK Manufacturing Leadership

Manufacturing clients that we’ve been working with at a strategic level already have well-rehearsed plans in place for Brexit. For those who are still reeling with shock here are some of the short-term actions that Manufacturing Leaders might consider – the “Six R’s”:

Reassure: the first essential role of Leadership in turbulent times. Ramp up the communication, make yourself available, get out and about in the workplace. Let people know that despite recent rhetoric no-one’s job will be lost this month or next. In particular, reassure migrant workers that they are valued and wanted and will continue to be so.

Resilience – time to update your business risk assessments and make sure that you have robust plans in place and contingencies for the things that won’t go to plan! In particular, consider broader supply chain risks (see below).

Rates 1 – Exchange Rates: the pound will be weaker for a while so ramp up the exports and continue to use Lean to in-source materials and components. De-risk the Supply Chain and take manufacture and control in-house.

Rates 2 – Interest Rates: we simply don’t know if interest rates will go higher or lower so shorten your payback periods slightly but keep on investing. Short-term turbulence often leads to cheaper asset prices so look out for bargains – don’t put off that acquistion but instead go flat out and bargain for a lower price.

Routine: now is the time to reinforce Standard Work, One Best Way and all of the “boring but important” daily disciplines that make for successful long-term business.

Remember: turbulence doesn’t change the world but it makes for bigger opportunities and bigger threats – update your SWOT review, spot the opportunities and act decisively.

Courage mon brave!

New Team Leader? Want to be liked? Get yourself a dog!

One of the hardest career steps that many of us take is the very first – becoming a Team Leader or First Line Manager. One day we’re happily part of the team, next day we’re leading it.

Without the right training and support it can be a tough place to be. Because we lack knowledge, skills and direction we often veer off into one of two directions – “Nasty” or “Nice”:

NICE: Some of us are keen to remain friends with the team members so we try a little too hard, maybe not put too much pressure on getting things done, maybe turn a blind eye to some of those things that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members may like us but we’re seen as an easy touch, maybe a “pushover”. Some folk take advantage of us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

NASTY: Some of us go the other way – “I’m the boss now – no more mister / ms nice guy!” We stamp out all of those little perks, cheats and short-cuts that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members see us as unreasonable, a “dictator”. Some folk actively work against us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

For me, one of the hardest lessons to learn – and one that I tell every new Team Leader or Manager – is this: “Don’t expect to be liked!”. Hence my second piece of advice – “If you want to be liked, get yourself a dog!”

What you can – and should – expect is to earn the respect of those that you work with. To become a good Team Leader you need to understand what’s going on here, and what to do about it.

Let’s look at two aspects of how we manage the team –

  1. Challenge – how much do we expect from team members?
  2. Support – how much help do we give them?

In the first example. we’re all support and no challenge so we’re an easy touch.

In the second example we’re all challenge and no support so we’re a dictator.

But we don’t have to choose between the two – it’s not an “either / or” choice.

What we need to do is both – always challenge people to be the best that they can be, and at the same time help them achieve their goals.

Result: better outcomes, happy team and well-respected, effective Team Leader! … and your dog will still love you just the same 🙂

Andrew Nicholson is Managing Director of ImproveMyFactory.com, and regularly coaches Team Leaders and Lean Leaders to achieve more than they thought possible.

New Team Leader? Get yourself a dog!

Image

One of the hardest career steps that many of us take is the very first – becoming a Team Leader. One day we’re happily part of the team, next day we’re leading it.

Without the right training and support it can be a tough place to be. Because we lack knowledge, skills and direction we often veer off into one of two directions:

Some of us are keen to remain friends with the team members so we try a little too hard, maybe not put too much pressure on getting things done, maybe turn a blind eye to some of those things that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members may like us but we’re seen as an easy touch, maybe a “pushover”. Some folk take advantage of us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

Some of us go the other way – “I’m the boss now – no more mister / ms nice guy!” We stamp out all of those little perks, cheats and short-cuts that we were doing yesterday.

Result: team members see us as unreasonable, a “dictator”. Some folk actively work against us so we lose respect and it becomes harder to get the job done.

For me, one of the hardest lessons to learn – and one that I tell every new Team Leader or Manager – is this: “Don’t expect to be liked!”. Hence my second piece of advice – “If you want to be liked, get yourself a dog!”

What you can – and should – expect is to earn the respect of those that you work with. To become a good Team Leader you need to understand what’s going on here, and what to do about it.

Let’s look at two aspects of how we manage the team –

Challenge – how much do we expect from team members?
Support – how much help do we give them?
In the first example. we’re all support and no challenge so we’re an easy touch.

In the second example we’re all challenge and no support so we’re a dictator.

But we don’t have to choose between the two – it’s not an “either / or” choice.

What we need to do is both – always challenge people to be the best that they can be, and at the same time help them achieve their goals.

Result: better outcomes, happy team and well-respected, effective Team Leader! … and your dog will still love you just the same 🙂

Jack Russell Terrier (10 months old)

The Three Stages of Lean Transformation

As our knowledge and practice of Lean has developed, many of us have come to the conclusion that there is no standardised “one size fits all” roadmap or sequence that details every step of “how to implement Lean” for every organisation. But there are three vital stages that it makes sense to follow. Here they are:

1. Grasp the Current Situation. A full understanding – by all team members – of the current situation, is the essential starting point for any improvement activity. Questions to ask might include: Exactly where are we now? What are we trying to do here? What is our purpose, our mission? How do we add value for our customers? Honestly, how are we performing now? Are our measurement systems capable of telling us? Are we collecting (only) the right information to help us to make decisions and to take action?

2. Achieve Stability. What are the most important processes in your business? How do you develop new products or services? How do you deliver them? How do you plan, execute and measure the vital few? How do you manage your people, from cradle to grave? Are these processes capable, under control and stable? How do you sustain “One Best Way”: do you provide clear instruction, effective training, regular monitoring, wide-spread mistake-proofing?

3. Implement Lean. Only now can you begin to change the way you work, with a real prospect of success and sustained improvement. Once you have stable, repeatable processes you can analyse them and find ways to do them better. With the right tools and support the team can simplify and streamline the processes so that you become more efficient and more productive, and achieve better outcomes.

The detail of how to do it – and the exact tools to use – are gained only through years of experience. If you don’t yet have that experience you’ll need to hire it in, but make sure that you coach your people so that they “learn by doing”. By following this approach, and by rigorously following the PDCA Improvement Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), you can genuinely transform your organisation and make Continuous Improvement a way of life.

The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Lean – Part 2

Andrew Nicholson
By Andy Nicholson, Managing Director of Nicholson Consultancy

In my previous blog I suggested that many organisations have come to understand that their future success requires the marshalling of Purpose, People and Processes, to deliver value to the organisation, its customers and its stakeholders.

So let’s look at what this actually means in practice:

The purpose of a Lean organisation is to create and deliver real long-term value.

The technical side of this requires a deep understanding of customers and stakeholders and should make clear exactly how, why, when and where value is added.

For the Purpose element to work a common set of values and a vision need to be drawn up that people feel are worthwhile and that they can get behind.

The truly Lean organisation values and develops its people, treats everyone with respect, and demands excellence.

To ensure sustainable continuous improvement requires, what W Edwards Deming, many years ago, described as “Constancy of Purpose” – the discipline of doing the important stuff day after day after day.

When it comes to People, the first and most important step is to get the right people on the bus – people whose values and attitudes fit with those of the organisation.

I’m with the approach of Jack Welch, as CEO of General Electric, on this one – if managers don’t demonstrate those values, they need to be replaced, regardless of how well they “hit the numbers”.

Lean organisations know how to recruit and retain people with the right values, and they are expert at developing each and every employee to their fullest potential.
Such organisations aim to engage people in a greater purpose, they recognise and reward their contribution, and they train and empower them to do the right thing in their own work-flow.

When Henry Ford talked about “the machine that God built” and Jim Womack, Dan Jones, and Dan Roos, wrote “The Machine that Changed the World” they weren’t talking about the motor car itself, they were talking about the process that created the motor car.

From the outset, Ford and Toyota understood that the myriad tasks and activities in a manufacturing plant should work together smoothly and effectively like a well-oiled machine.

Lean organisations are obsessed with their value streams – the essential value-adding tasks by which they create and deliver value.

They actively manage their extended value streams – their supply chains – by partnering and working with their suppliers and customers.

All the time, their people are working to understand “exactly how is value added, how do we cut out the waste, how do we link the pieces together and improve flow?” Put simply, good processes deliver good results.

Last, but not least, pulling all of this together requires the right leadership – leaders who have the right values, who are passionate about Lean and who are in it for the long haul: the sort of people who work very hard to make things very simple.

Lean Start-Ups: are they possible?

The short answer is “Yes” it is possible to start Lean and stay Lean. Here’s how:

It is important to keep it simple and stay organised. This can be achieved by adopting Lean 5S principles, which is a system to reduce waste and optimise productivity through maintaining an orderly workplace and using visual cues.

This includes making sure anyone can find anything quickly and easily. Keep things simple and visual – can people easily see at a glance what’s OK and what isn’t?

Focus on the following main three business areas:

• Sales – getting the work in / engaging with the customer
• Operations – getting the work done / delivering
• Finance – managing the cash, funding the growth

Employees should be made aware of how they fit into the company structure and what their contribution needs to be to make the business run smoothly, effectively and efficiently.

To achieve this:
• Write down each role and give it a name or a description
• Write down the main purpose of the role and exactly how its provides value to the customer
• Outline “what a good job looks like” – the best way / tricks of the trade, and pitfalls to avoid

Next draw up a grid with the roles along one side and people’s names along the other. For each job show with an R who is Responsible, with a D who Deputises, and with an A who Assists so employees know at a glance what their duties are.

Regular communication is key. For at least one hour each week talk about what’s going well, what’s not going well and what ideas you have to make things better.

By consensus, pick one improvement idea that is easiest to implement, has the highest impact and is affordable. Agree who will make it happen, and when, and get on with it.

Hire slowly, fire quickly. Be clear about values, expectations, Do’s and Don’ts. With new staff, have a one-to-one review for 15 minutes each day, then one hour per week, then one hour per month.

Make a conscious decision to retain or part company at the end of the first day, the first week, the first month. If it isn’t working in the first month, it probably never will. Let people take risks, make mistakes and fail, but expect them to learn and not to repeat their mistakes.

Do the absolute minimum required to add value for the customer – everything else is waste. Keep it simple, keep it electronic, and automate it.

Store data in only one place, share it and organise it so that anyone can easily find what they need.

Seriously consider scalable, cloud-based “pay as you go” systems. Use non-proprietary open systems where you can.

Similarly, do the absolute minimum that you need to do with a new product or process to see if it works. This is what Silicon Valley entrepreneur Eric Ries calls the MVP – the Minimum Viable Prototype.

Experiment quickly, fail early, learn as you go and keep on learning.

The key to Lean is the improvement cycle Plan-Do-Check-Act. In a start-up the most important thing is to get along the learning curve as quickly as you can.

Therefore, you need to cycle through these stages as quickly as you can. You’ll need some sort of plan to start with, but also be prepared to be flexible. This is because the reality is likely to be different from your original plan, so you have to learn as you go.

Have a tight control on costs by keeping fixed overheads to a minimum, outsourcing non-core tasks, “paying as you go” and avoiding long-term tie-ins.

Continually question the reasoning behind any action plan. Always ask yourself ‘does this add value for our customer’, ‘does it make us more profitable’, and ‘does it make things easier for us?’

Manage the cash every day, without fail. This can be easily one by using a simple spreadsheet.

The Lean process is all about keeping it simple, focusing on what matters, learning quickly what works and having the courage to ditch what doesn’t.