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Learn to see your people with Lean – Three ways to help make them more visible

Do you have a great team of people working with you? Are they constantly striving to improve their processes and coming up with great ideas and improvements? Do they know how great they are and how hard they work? Do you tell them? Or even better, do you show them?

Recently I attended the Melbourne Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) conference where I was privileged to see and hear two of the world’s foremost lean icons, Paul Akers from FastCap and Billy Taylor from Goodyear Tires & Rubber. The message these two gentlemen had for us was simple. Make your people visible, celebrate their achievements, celebrate improvement, all the time, constantly.

This message was reinforced the next day when Andrew Smith of Value Added took us through a workshop on Two Second Lean and how it made the team members at one of the companies he worked at visible. He showed us how visibility leads to motivation and pride in team members and how it catapulted improvement in the business.

I came away from the conference with a small sense of comfort, knowing at our company we are well on the path to making our team visible but also knowing we could do better, do more and make sure that our celebration sessions reach everyone all the time. I’m proud that we acknowledge our people regularly. Even for our shy people, it’s enough for them to know that we want to acknowledge them, even while we respect their wishes to stay in the shadows.

Making people visible is easier than you might think. It just takes a little effort and creativity on your part and a true desire to acknowledge and celebrate everything your team members do to make your company better. Here are my three key ways for making people visible.

Three ways to make people visible through improvement:

  1. Find a way of documenting improvements. You can do this through basic Before and After forms, by making videos or any other cool way you can thin of to make improvement visible. FastCap and NZ Windows upload their videos to YouTube although keeping them internal is just as effective.
  2. Set up a regular time to celebrate improvement and recognise people. This could be at daily, weekly or monthly meetings. Encouraging people to present and talk about improvements grows confidence and motivation.
  3. Spend time talking with people about improvements in their areas. Pay attention and ask questions. You never know if the conversation will lead to more ideas and opportunities for you to help.

I think that using all three of these points together gives you a nice, fully rounded way of making people visible but you will get benefits even if you just try one to start off with.

I can’t over emphasise the importance of making people visible in a lean transformation. Your team is responsible for making most of the improvements that make your company great. They have the ideas, they do the work and they deserve the acknowledgement and to know how much you appreciate what they do. Get excited and start celebrating them. Failing to do this shows them that you don’t really care that much about improvement even if you think you do.

Don’t say it, show it. Make your people visible. Today.

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