The beginning of the year can be the hardest time for maintaining motivation. Here in the UK the weather is cold, the days are dark and many of us have just returned to work after a prolonged Christmas break. Maintaining motivation in your Lean journey is an additional challenge which applies at any time of the year so, given that this week began with ‘Blue Monday’ (allegedly the most depressing day of the year), we thought we’d focus on how you and your Lean team can get off on the right foot in 2018.
It is acknowledged that quicks wins are important in Lean, in order to provide some immediate payback and validate the decision to embark upon the planned transformation. Instant gratification is motivational in the short-term, but over the long-term you need to work harder at maintaining motivation, particularly when the going gets tough (which it will!). Here are some tips to help you remain focused:
1. Dig into the detail
The big picture is very important in Lean – keeping the vision alive – but the nitty gritty of the day-to-day is where you need to spend a lot of time to maintain motivation. Make an effort to connect with colleagues working in the lower tiers of the organisation to keep them engaged with Lean and ensure that they can see the fruits of their labours. Listen to their concerns, ask for their ideas and call upon their expertise.
2. Recognise and reward
Collective and individual morale in your organisation will be automatically boosted if people feel that their achievements are recognised and rewarded. Reminding workers of their important contribution, and sharing it with others, is a simple way of stoking enthusiasm. And it needn’t cost you a thing.
3. Beware complacency
Complacency is the enemy of progress. When things are going well it’s tempting to take a breather, sit back and admire your handiwork but, while it’s always good to celebrate progress (see above), stay focused on your goals and be careful not to slip into complacency. Keep moving forward on your Lean journey and avoid periods of stasis.
4. Enforce Lean structure
If your organisation has been on its Lean journey for a while, there is a danger that Lean becomes too familiar and ‘just how we do things’ rather than something that needs conscious engagement. Lean requires active participation, backed up by formal structures and protocols so make sure that processes are clearly understood and enforced, monitoring is rigorous and the Lean culture is kept alive.
5. Focus on leadership
Having excellent Lean leaders throughout your organisation is vital for maintaining motivation. This isn’t just to inspire your team to get out of bed and show up for work each day, it’s about convincing them to work smarter by learning from their mistakes, uniting them in collaborative working and enthusing them to commit to continuous improvement, however hard it may be. If your Lean leaders aren’t up to scratch, you need to act; without good leadership maintaining motivation will be nigh on impossible.
These are just a few ways to keep up the momentum on your Lean journey and I’d welcome readers’ input and ideas. Alternatively, if your Lean project needs a kick-start, please get in touch for more help and advice.