Lean Wednesday Tip: Target Employee Strengths for optimized performance and employee satisfaction

“Great managers know the importance of recognizing individual employee strengths, praising them when they do a good job, and allowing them to enhance these strengths by giving them projects that require them to use them.”

E.O.W (End of the Week) Notable Tip: The 4 Struggles of an inexperienced Manager

Happy Friday!

I hope you had a great week. This week I’ve been discussing employee to manager transitions with clients and the problems they have encountered with the newly appointed yet inexperienced manager. You may have witnessed an employee that has been promoted to a managerial position lose their shine as they demonstrate that they don’t actually comprehend the position. Before they were task driven and now they have to think and act strategically. Below I have noted the top 4 struggles that inexperienced managers face:

  • Inability to empower others
  • Poor delegating: Lack of trust of staff to complete tasks
  • Little or no constructive feedback given to staff
  • Lack of focus and/or skills in strategic thinking

Early manager to employee support and coaching in the inexperienced manager’s early years in the company is the best course of action in molding effective managers. Employees do what they see their managers do so make sure you walk the talk!

 

 

How to plan a Process Improvement Project

When planning a process improvement project the most important question you have to ask is, “What problem are we trying to solve?” This question relates directly to the first step in DMAIC ( a Lean Six Sigma problem solving tool), which is to define the problem. After you answer this question you are ready to outline the criteria for an effective process improvement plan. Projects are usually one time occurrences created to fulfill specific goals for the organization.

Essentially, Lean Six Sigma projects must have the following 3 critical characteristics to be effective: performance, cost and time.  The performance criteria allows us to understand what the project seeks to accomplish. Project expectations and goals should be written clearly, be realistic, made available to all project team members, and team members should also be held accountable for achieving them.

The second criteria, cost, provides insights into the resources needed to complete a project. Usually, money belts which are financial auditors provide an objective independent evaluation of the potential financial benefits of a project as well as the actual results achieved by the Lean Six Sigma project.

Finally, the third criteria, time, assures that team members are aware of the time-frame for the starting and ending of the project. Gantt Charts are excellent tools for monitoring all the activities associated with a project coupled with checkpoints which are smaller points throughout a project that are used to judge how far the project is toward completion.

It is imperative that all team members in a process improvement project understand the top 3 inter-related objectives of the project which are meeting the budget, finishing on schedule and meeting the performance specifications.

 

Lean Wednesday Tip: Molding Employees to be Future Managers

“Effective leaders encourage employees to solve problems on their own coupled with cross-functional department collaboration. They also provide mentorship and/or coaching programs that enhance and educate employees on how to improve their leadership styles.”

E.O.W (End of the Week) Notable Tip: Managing Employees when mistakes are made

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve had a great week. Today, I want to end this week with the topic of employee management specifically when they make mistakes. In my career, I have seen “Screaming Managers”, those that yell like banshees at their employees when something goes wrong or a mistake is made. Its worse when this is done in front of everyone as the employee’s confidence is being eaten alive coupled with the horrific embarrassment.

Then we have the passive aggressive managers, who say everything is okay but have plans to kick you out the door even if this is your first mistake. An effective and strong manager does not scream nor is passive aggressive. So, “What is the best way to manage an employee when they make a mistake?”

“Effective leaders quickly respond to an employee that has made a mistake. They use firm yet positive language to express how the mistake makes them feel and how it affects the company. They make sure the employee understands what they did wrong and give them a brief moment to digest it. Most importantly, they make it clear to the employee that confidence has not been lost and they are certain the employee will be able to not only correct it but also ensure that it is not repeated. In short, effective leaders don’t erode employee confidence they mold them to be champions.”

When to Automate a Process

Many Managers and leaders ask this question, “When do I know its time to automate a Process?” The simplest answer is that automation of a process is critical when the well-being of your employees is being impaired, too much time is spent on manual input and putting out fires; and less time is dedicated to strategic planning and achieving strategic goals.

Leaders must constantly measure process performance as this includes, process cycle time, lead times, and process costs coupled with benchmark comparisons to truly understand how they fare with their competitors. For example, say you wanted to automate your Accounts Payable function. You would first create a process map to identify inefficiencies in the process, test and implement new controls, track and analyze Key Measures of Performance (cost per invoice, process cost, process cycle time, days to resolve a problem, et cetera) and compare data to your competitors. If you realize that the cost per invoice and process cycle time is significantly higher than your competitors it is wise to consider automation software.

However, before integrating software to automate the process you must compare the total costs and see if new and tested controls or alternative low cost methods can reduce costs and cycle time without the integration.

A process in dire need of automation can be detected by increase in poor quality, delivery and productivity. A process can not run smoothly if any of these process efficiency characteristics (quality, delivery and productivity) is not meeting business and customer requirements.

E.O.W (End of the Week) Notable Tip: Aligning product success metrics with customer priorities and strategic goals

Happy Friday!

I hope you had a great week. This week’s Notable Tip is focused on the development of valuable and critical product KPI metrics. If you are not measuring and monitoring the most important metrics of your product’s performance progress then you are missing valuable insights that can help you optimize your product. Below I end this post with a short message on how to ensure product success with well-developed measures of performance.

As always, “Success is continuous improvement.”

“Properly designed measures of performance are aligned with strategic goals of a company as well as with its customers’ priorities. They should be to the point, clearly written, focused and measure what is of value to the customer (product/service attributes).”

4 Step Process for Motivating Employees

Motivating employees effectively takes thorough understanding of what truly motivates them and yourself as the leader of the company. Effective leaders communicate performance expectations and goals clearly. It is more than just a reward for getting a big client or exceeding/meeting a goal. It is about clear expectations, communication, regular feedback and performance measures.

The First step in your employee motivation process journey should be to set realistic goals and standards, develop checkpoints to measure progress, create measures of performance to measure progress and encourage innovation.

The Second step, emphasizes the importance of communicating effectively by imploring that goals and objectives are communicated clearly, resistance to change is handled diplomatically, employee concerns are heard and solutions are developed quickly, you as a leader inspire cooperation and commitment, and the brainstorming of new ideas is encouraged.

The Third step, delves into the regularity of employee feedback. It is critical that a feedback system is established along with timely feedback, constructive criticism and the proper managing of conflict.

The Fourth and last step is about the development and reporting of performance metrics. This involves setting priorities, approving solutions, encouraging continuous improvement by providing educational and training opportunities, managing differences, and providing timely recognition and rewards.

In short, stay abreast of the needs, concerns, and accomplishments of your employees on a daily basis. Your employees are not just seat fillers nor numbers; make an effort to get to know them on a personal level. Take the time to verbally appreciate them everyday and showcase your own motivation.

Lean Wednesday Tip: Tax considerations for C Corporation Dividend Payouts

“Avoid double taxation of a C Corporation’s dividend payout by structuring payments to shareholders as consulting fees. Shareholders must actually offer advice for the payments to be considered valid tax deductible transactions.”