Part three of a three part series on Proactive Improvement
Blog Article Written By: Dave Mills, Managing Partner – Columbus
So far, we talked about the forgotten elements of many businesses and the implications of their being forgotten. We focused on relationships with suppliers and customers. Our good friend Jim Hosley at Exterior Portfolio by Crane gave another great example: “In my experience, one of the largest forgotten elements are the people who come to work every day and just do a good, dependable, quality job. As managers we tend to focus on either the ‘problem children’ or the most ‘visible’ or the ‘high performers.’”
It’s true that too often there is a focus on the extremes when what any manager would prefer is to have confidence in all of their employees. What if they did? We have a proven strategy to move toward that goal called Run-Improve-Grow™. It has allowed top-leaders to expect more and gain confidence and trust in their entire organization.
Imagine Run-Improve-Grow™ as a triangle with the run function at the wide base. Ideally, your operators and front line supervisors are managing the run while your managers in the middle of the triangle are focused on proactive improvements. Too often the middle managers get called in to solve routine run problems. When they are working in the run, they are not working on improvement that would make the business more productive and profitable. It then falls to senior management at the top of the triangle to make improvements, when their time would be put to better use focusing on growth initiatives and innovation. I think you can see what then happens to the company’s growth pursuits when middle managers get stuck in the run. What percentage of time do you spend Running the business, Improving it and Growing it? What would you want it to be? How would the company benefit if you made the switch?
Run-Improve-Grow™ starts by empowering the front-line with tools. With our clients, we have used lean initiatives such as 5S, six sigma and kaizen to streamline the front-line’s systems and processes. Additionally, daily huddle meetings between the front-line supervisors and the operators have focused on open and honest communication and have facilitated discussions of what went well and what needed improvement in the previous shift. The operators said that when they shared their ideas and saw them become implemented, it made them feel valued. The confidence in their ideas increased their accountability to the job.
What would an empowered front-line mean to your company? Imagine if instead of middle managers being pulled down into the Run, operators and frontline leaders were empowered to make improvements themselves Run-Improve-Grow™ pushes time up. Middle managers have the time to focus on making proactive improvements. Top-leaders have the time to focus on innovation and growth.
Now take it to a personal level. Mark Hartings, plant manager at PDi Communications, has been with the company for 30 years. In all of his time with the company, he never used every one of his vacation days. After working with Run-Improve-Grow™ this past year, he was able to use them all for the first time. Even more significant was the feeling he had when he took time off: “I was never worried that when I came back, the operation would have fallen apart. I was able to take time off with confidence.”
Understanding how the Run-Improve-Grow™ system has helped the lives of our clients’ employees is very special to us at Definity Partners. In 2011, we would love to help you. How can Run-Improve-Grow™ help you this year – personally and professionally?