Mere Mortal Managers

“Preparation” (Page 4 of 5)

Keeping excess staff employed when they’re not needed is often difficult to justify to people who pay more attention to the bottom line than the overall and long-term needs of the company. Your Lean team may reduce the staffing needs of a particular operation or department by 5 or 10 people after a one week Kaizen Blitz(improvement event). In keeping with your “Never Punish for Lean” promise, what do you do with 5 or 10 extra people? Here are a few suggestions:


Ask for volunteers to move to other areas that need their help. Using TOC “Theory of Constraints” rationale you may choose to use this excess labor capacity to off-load your major constraining process(es). Sometimes assignments to other areas must also be made.

Project Teams

Form a project team out of the surplus employees to accomplish a stated goal like setting up a new work area, developing a product, cleaning up the plant, or other initiative.


“Lend” employees to sister companies, suppliers, and customers. All of these actions result in benefits to your company as well.

On The Job Training

Allow some “job shadowing” to serve as on the job training and prepare back-up process experts.


Permit increased training opportunities to temporarily displaced workers and rotate who the “temporarily displaced workers” are. No one should be made to feel they are “on the bubble” for a layoff at any time.

Creative Scheduling

Offer a shortened work week and/or rotate who gets to work the shorter weeks.