Mere Mortal Managers

“Self-Correction” (Page 4 of 4)

Maybe you have been inconsistent. The good old “flavor of the week” syndrome: One week it’s TQM, the next you try Six Sigma, the next you promote the virtues of TOC, and everyone starts reading “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt (great book by the way, we highly recommend it). Now you’re talking Lean, but lack credibility. Behind your back people are saying “Now what? Here we go again!” Actually, we see this phenomenon more than most others as an inhibitor to effectively implementing Lean. It is really quite common to some degree in most companies. If you or your predecessors have been inconsistent in past efforts, it will take a little rebuilding to earn the buy-in you need. Notice the term “earn” in the previous sentence? Respect is earned. Here are a few ideas you may find helpful:

Own It

Take responsibility for what you and others have done in the past. Acknowledge it and account for it. No doubt you had your reasons. “Pobody’s Nerfect” as they say, and there are no expectations for you to be. Both personal and public (in-house) apologies and statements of your absolute commitment to becoming Lean are in order. Don’t just tell them what you are going to do; tell them how you will be measured in the process. Inform them what your personal and company goals are, and that they, your team, will likewise be accountable to goals they establish. You are really placing your reputation on the line here. But follow-though is exactly what it takes to earn credibility.

Give it Time

It takes time to build trust where it has been lost. Be patient and steadfast in your commitments. Ask people how you are doing and if they see areas for improvement that perhaps you do not. Although people may never forget the “sins of the past” (the inconsistencies, poor leadership, flavor of the week pains they have endured etc.) they will gladly trade the old you for the new you if that makes their work lives better.

Generally speaking, employees really do “manage the managers.” You think you’re in charge, and you are. Yet, just ask someone to do something they feel is morally wrong, dangerous, or humiliating and they will likely disobey. The managers may set the rules but the employees set the limits. You will only lead to the extent you are allowed to do so. That level is determined by the trust you instill in your employees, the respect they feel for you as well as the respect that is reciprocated. It is largely in your hands.

You Can Fix It

Whatever mistakes you may have made in the past, Lean can be your fresh start. Transforming a company to a Lean environment is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. Of course Lean saves and helps companies earn more money. But perhaps of equal or greater importance is that it is a fantastic investment in your workforce. Thoughtfully implemented, Lean creates a working environment of collaboration, creativity, profitability, and excellence—a true “Lean Legacy.”


Read the second article in this series by clicking here: Preparation

Read the third (final) article in this series by clicking here: Execution

See Also: Flexible Approaches To Implementing Lean Manufacturing