The Number Nine Motivator – “My fellow employees are committed to doing quality work”

When we’re surrounded by people who strive to do well, we’re often encouraged to up our own game. And the opposite is also true – if those around us don’t care about how good of a job they do, and set themselves low standards, then the rest of the team will often sink to the same low standards.

People give of their best when they’re challenged and supported. And no one was ever inspired by the prospect of being average, or “just see what you can do”.

That’s why it’s so important for Leaders at all levels in an organisation to have high expectations of their teams, and to tackle any examples of poor performance.

So maybe it’s time for you to set some stretch targets – agree one or two BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), expect excellence, give team members the support they need to achieve, and tackle poor performance immediately – it’s often contagious!

… and if you need some help with achieving a “One Best Way” culture or you want to know how easy it can be to manage employee’s performance, contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com

Housekeeping or 5S – which one is it?

Maybe it’s just me but I’m regularly disappointed when people who should know better confuse the two. So here’s my little rant:

Unless you work in a very well-run hotel, please don’t pretend that “Housekeeping” is anything like 5S – it isn’t!

And if you’re doing 5S properly please don’t undermine it by calling it Housekeeping!

At worst, Housekeeping is a one-off tidy-up. At best it’s a standardised regular tidy-up that gets checked. Don’t get me wrong – it can be very effective and in some environments it might be all that’s needed.

5S on the other hand (sometimes also called 5C or CANDO) is a disciplined, systematic approach to workplace organisation. It uses simple visual management to

  • increase efficiency
  • minimise wasted time and effort
  • encourage team-work
  • establish “One Best Way”
  • instil discipline
  • continuously improve

So here’s a little challenge for you – have a close look at your business and each workplace within it, and then

  • if you’re at an early stage, decide if basic Housekeeping is all that you need (being tidy and looking good), or if you need to invest time and effort to reap the full benefits of 5S
  • if you think you’re already doing 5S, take an honest look at the list above and check how many of those benefits you’re currently achieving. If there are any gaps, maybe it’s time to reinvigorate your approach to 5S and raise your game

And if you’d like some advice, training and hands-on help to implement and sustain 5S, please contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com or call (UK) 01325 328855.

The Number Eight Motivator – “The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important”

It’s easy to become sceptical about Vision, Mission Statements and the like adorning the walls in Reception, but working for an organisation that does worthwhile work that you believe in or identify with, is increasingly important.

We need to feel that what we do has some purpose and meaning, and we’ve probably heard the truism that “We are happy to the extent that we are in pursuit of worthy goals”

Hoshin Planning (Policy Deployment) is a very structured way of addressing this. Put simply, the idea is to cascade an organisation’s goals – by discussion and agreement – through every level of its hierarchy. Although it appears simple it often takes years to introduce the approach effectively. Done well though, everyone can see how the projects that they are working on fit into the “big picture”.

More easily, a good employee appraisal system should help translate the organisation’s goals into objectives, targets and measures for key staff.

Even more simply, regular one-to-one sessions where employees agree objectives and receive regular feedback, can be a great way of ensuring that employees understand how and why what they’re doing fits into the “big picture” and why it’s important.

Whatever technique we use though, we need to help employees understand that their work is important and valuable and that it contributes to a worthwhile goal. From a Leadership perspective we need employees to understand not just “what” they need to do and “how”, but also – and most importantly – “why”. Speaker and author Simon Sinek explains this in his “Start with Why” Ted Talk on YouTube.

… and if you’d like some help to find the “Why” in your own manufacturing business, contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com

The Number Seven Motivator – “At work my opinions seem to count”

In the age of smartphones, 24/7 email and social media it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by communications. Employees can feel it’s difficult to make themselves heard, and managers can struggle to hear people above the continuous “white noise” of messages. As a result, frustration increases, motivation drops and stress levels rise.

That’s when a simple technique – “Ease and Effect” – cuts through the noise, engages employees, makes managers’ jobs easier and quickly gets the best ideas turned into actions.

“Ease and Effect” sessions are one of the simplest, most effective ways to give employees a voice, to translate good ideas into action, and to sustain your Continuous Improvement activities.

It’s often best to start with a small workgroup – perhaps five to ten people – and be specific about the areas that you’d like to tackle. Give the team a week or two to identify problems and wastes (think of “The Seven Visible Wastes”), then bring them back together for a short brainstorming session.

Ask the team to rate each idea as to how Easy it would be to implement (Easy, Medium or Difficult) and how effective it would be (High, Medium or Low effect). Start with the “Easy, High” ideas to get some quick wins, then move onto the “Easy, Medium” and finally the “Medium, High”. Keep track of progress and see how quickly motivation rises and performance improves!

… and if you’d like some practical help to implement “Ease and Effect” in your manufacturing business, contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com

The Number Six Motivator – “There is someone at work who encourages my development”

Take an active interest in helping your employees to develop – you’ll boost their skills and their motivation!

Most of us like to feel that we’re making some progress in our lives and our careers. We want to keep our minds active and we want to believe that tomorrow we’ll be more knowledgeable, more skilled or more adept than we are today. And most of us feel happier when we’ve got something to aim for – “We feel happy to the extent that we are in pursuit of worthy goals”…

Ultimately we’re each responsible for our own career progression and development but it can be difficult to do it all on our own. And that’s particularly true if we’re not sure what skills we might need in the future.

Larger organisations may have HR staff with active “talent management programmes” who provide career counselling, well-planned training and development opportunities, and the like. But for smaller organisations there’s often very little help or it falls to the employee’s immediate supervisor or manager and often is low on their list of priorities.

An alternative approach is to provide access to a mentor or “career buddy” elsewhere in the organisation – ideally a more experienced manager that the employee doesn’t directly report to.  They will have an idea of the roles that are likely to be required in the future, and can guide their mentees towards how best to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to fill those roles. It’s also a great way of helping more experienced staff find new ways to make use of that experience. Try it!

… and if you want effective, bespoke training and development for your manufacturing employees, contact Andrew.Nicholson@ImproveMyFactory.com

 

The Number Five Motivator – “My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person”

We all like to feel that we’re doing something worthwhile, that what we do is important and that we’d be missed if we weren’t there.

But at work it’s sometimes easy to feel that we’re a small cog in a very big machine; that our efforts are insignificant and go unnoticed. Ultimately this might lead us to feel that it’s not worth making an effort, and hence we can become disinterested and demotivated.

One of the challenges for every leader – at all levels in the organisation – is to treat everyone fairly and equally, whilst at the same time treating each person as an individual. It’s helpful to get to know each person, and to find out “what makes them tick”. We don’t expect to delve into every aspect of our employee’s personal lives but it can be helpful if we have an idea of what else is going on in their world, particularly if we can celebrate some successes and help them over the odd bump in the road. Having an idea of – and perhaps recognising in the workplace – key events like Birthdays – can also help. And where we can, taking a long-term view and helping folk to balance the rewards and challenges of work and home increases employees’ sense of security and welfare, which is good for them and good for the organisation.

Acknowledging people every time that you see them is also incredibly simple but very important. Even if it’s a simple nod of the head and a “hello there” or “good morning”. Better still if you get to know everyone’s names. If you’re the senior leader in the organisation, it’s incredibly powerful – and well appreciated – if you can do this. I’ve known examples of business leaders, head teachers and politicians who make a point of learning every one of hundreds – or even thousands – of names. Try it!

The Number Four Motivator – “In the last 7 days I have received recognition or praise for doing good work”

The vast majority of people like to do a job well, and they like to be recognised when they’ve done a good job.

Unfortunately it’s too easy to overlook this important act – we might feel that “they get paid for it so why do they need thanking as well”, or we might not feel comfortable giving praise and recognition.

Here are a few ways to make sure that we recognise people’s efforts effectively:

The recognition has to be appropriate for the individuals concerned. Some people would love to receive an award from the Chief Exec on stage in front of an audience of thousands. Other people would be horrified at the very thought of such a public display. Make sure that the type of recognition will be appreciated by the individual(s) concerned. The same rules apply as for a gift – show that you know the individual and that you know what they would value.

The recognition has to be genuine. You need to understand exactly what the good job was, and why it deserves recognition. And don’t overdo it, or do it automatically. A routine, unthinking “thank you” every day becomes meaningless – like the dreaded “Have a nice day!” that’s churned out automatically.

And finally – particularly when you want to recognise the efforts of a team rather than an individual – get creative and make it fun!

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!

Get control of your stock and reap the rewards

“We’ve got far too much stock, too much cash tied up, yet we’re always running out and we can’t trust the computer stock figures!”

When times are tough you can’t tolerate poor stock control any longer and you need to take action.

Here’s what to do:

Get to grips with the data. Look at your usage rates and calculate how many days, weeks or months’ worth of stock you have of each item. Sort the items in order. Where you have low stocks, check your stock figures and ensure you’ve got supplies lined up – these might be next week’s shortages! Where you have high stocks, are these slow-moving or obsolete items? If so, identify them, segregate them, count them, seal them and work out how to dispose of them (re-use, re-work, send back to supplier, sell off, scrap, etc).

Implement a system of Cycle Counting (also known as Perpetual Inventory or PI). Rank the items by Usage Value (Usage x Cost) and categorise the Top 10% as A items, the next 20% as B items and the remaining 70% as C items. Count the A items most frequently (say every month), the B items less often (say every three months) and the C items the least often (say once every year). Each week count the required number of A, B and C items. Compare the actual count for each item with the stock record and identify as “misses” any items where the variance is outside a reasonable counting tolerance. Those that are within tolerance are “Hits”. Calculate your Inventory Record Accuracy (IRA) by dividing the number of line items that are Hits by the total number of line items counted, and multiply by 100%. Investigate the root causes of any errors, put in place preventive actions and improvements and watch your stock accuracy improve (aim for 98%+). Over time you’ll achieve what you thought was impossible – accurate stcok figures you can trust, lower stock levels, less cash tied up, and fewer shortages!

For practical help in getting your stock under control contact Andrew Nicholson at www.ImproveMyFactory.com

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.