When a business decides to commit to Lean, it is the start of a long (arguably, never-ending) journey. The success of the implementation relies on many things, but perhaps one of the biggest potential humps in the road is the need to take everyone along with you. In this week’s blog we’re looking at some of the most effective tools for promoting Lean within your organisation, to ensure that all employees stay on-track.
Lean is all about teamwork and breaking down barriers. The flow of information through your organisation needs to be two-way, so everyone understands what is happening and why. There needs to be a process for providing and receiving feedback and there must be an atmosphere of openness and collaboration. Be prepared for resistance; it’s inevitable that some people may resent the changes so have a strategy for dealing with objections.
If your team can see the benefits of Lean for them personally, as well as for your organisation, the chances of success are greatly enhanced. Empower your staff by giving them responsibility, taking advantage of their strengths and challenging them to address their weaknesses. Explain how Lean requires everyone to learn from mistakes and make sure you promote success. And remember, the best leaders can be found at all levels of an organisation, not just at the top.
Your existing reward and recognition schemes may no longer be suitable once you implement your business transformation programme. As part of promoting Lean you need to look at individual performances through a team-focused lens and previous job descriptions and pay structures may no longer be valid. Look at how you can reward employees for their contribution to making Lean work, perhaps creating team bonuses or incentivising against different measures, whether hard (waste reduction, productivity, quality improvement) or soft (leadership, innovation, mentoring, problem-solving).
While the ‘whole team’ mentality is a powerful motivation within an organisation’s culture, it is most effective when underpinned by an active coaching and mentoring programme. Lean needs champions to make it thrive, so identify people at all levels of the company who have the skills and personality to take others along with them. Effective coaching and mentoring will quickly reveal emerging problems or disgruntlement among the workforce so they can be fixed before the cracks become chasms.
Lean is a long-term process. Yes, you need to focus on some quick wins to get the momentum going, but this journey is a marathon not a sprint. Personnel changes can have a big impact on the continued and sustained success of Lean, so HR is vital to ensuring it thrives in the long term. A change of senior personnel can be the biggest risk, with a new boss coming in and wanting to make their mark. Recruitment procedures, interviewing techniques, induction programmes and talent management all need to be reviewed to ensure they are focused on the continuation of the Lean vision.
As McKinsey’s report, Guiding the people transformation The role of HR in lean management, says, “Organizations that successfully engage HR throughout their application of Lean management see significant long-term advantages.”
What other tools have you successfully used for promoting Lean within your organisation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.