In the business world, there is a constant need and desire for improvement. It doesn’t matter whether a business specializes in the market of rare auto parts or in making the best enchiladas. The plain and simple truth is that improving business practices to meet the ever-changing and diverse needs of society is essential to the success of any business endeavor. However, with all this change and improvement often comes a little struggle. Sometimes business processes are changed so radically that employees struggle with the changes if they are not adequately informed about what changes are taking place or how the changes actually benefit the specific process or end product. Furthermore, in some cases the problem is not with the employees at all, but instead embedded within the actual process changes. When looking into making improvement changes, it is important to really take the time to evaluate the changes fully to make sure that they are win-win for both the employees and the desired business objectives.
In the improvement process, there are often many things to consider especially such as metrics, data, resources, etc. However, it is important to make sure that employees are also considered within the grand scheme of things. There are times when businesses make essential changes that are needed to stay current with the changing times, but often neglect to involve the actual employees in the process of determining changes, or in the reasoning why specific changes were made. This can leave employees feeling a bit resentful and also leave processes lacking in certain important fundamentals.
For instance, the top managers in a business make the decision to improve a production line within the factory because many of the machines were getting older and not handling the work as effectively as needed. In order to update the production line to new standards, new machines were installed and tweaks were made to previous processes in order to help further “streamline” production. However, the group of employees who had been faithful to that production line for years were not included in any of the brainstorming or design meetings and were instead just told to abide by the new changes. Employees did as they were told, but it didn’t take long for them to realize that even with the new changes the line was still floundering at certain points. In fact, even though the new processes were supposed to speed up the line and cut down on the workload, employees often found themselves working nearly twice as hard. After some observation, the top managers started to wonder why the employees were not keeping up the pace and producing the expected results, thus blaming the employees.
The point of this example is to depict how poor communication and lack of employee involvement can be detrimental to potential improvements. Even though top managers thought they had everything figured out, they neglected to involve all parties. Employees are truly a key component when it comes to changes with their jobs. The employees are the people who are out working with the equipment on a day-to-day basis, and can often easily help identify areas in need of improvement quickly. In the above example, the problem was not with the employees, but instead with the process.
Communication is KEY
The important thing to remember is that changes can and should be made when needed, but without the input from employees the changes may prove to be more of a hindrance than an achievement. In order to truly make a win-win situation for both the business and the employees, communication is vital.
- Employee Involvement: It can Make or Break LEAN
- Customer Service: It Can Make or Break a Business
- Help Your Business GO LEAN!
- DMAIC Cycle
- Changeover: Streamlining Your Business
- Decision-Making: Is Quicker Always Better?
- Understanding the DMAIC Model
- Using Quality Objectives to Drive Strategic Performance Improvement
- Lean Metrics + Process Improvement = Success