Conversation in the conference room: “You never get support around here… why did they choose him for the job.. if it weren’t for the sales department…” And then the silence as the boss enters the room. “Good morning,” he says, “and how are things going?” The replay: “Great!” Why is that?
As a judge recently at the Share Showcase 2018 competition organized by High Performance Solutions, I was reminded as I listened to 12 high powered teams present their projects, that there are some very common characteristics of both the projects and the leaders of the teams. In the last post “Do Your Continuous Improvement Teams Have What it Takes to Win?” we reviewed what makes a successful continuous improvement (CI) team. Here in this post, we’ll review what characteristics of the senior leaders of these teams had in common.
The characteristics that really stood out are:
Passion – Super high passion around CI and their teams. Fully believe in their teams and the CI methodology.
Empowerment – Empower their teams to solve problems, be creative and innovate. They let the teams figure it out. They don’t get in the way.
Coaching/Mentoring – They are coaches and mentors to the CI team members rather than their boss or manager. They guide and give advice, they don’t tell the team what to do or how to do it. They let the team fail.
Obstacle/Barrier Removers – See that their role is to remove obstacles or barriers that prevent the CI teams from achieving their goals or targets. Provide additional resources and obtain necessary approvals.
Supportive – Provide positive re-enforcement and encouragement to the team along the way. Push them beyond what they think they can achieve. Pick the team up after failure. Encourage them to keep trying. Help them to succeed.
Patient – Give the team time to learn, explore, succeed, and fail. This doesn’t mean that there are not timelines and targets the teams need to achieve! However, they are patient in letting the team figure out the best options and solutions even when they know the answer.
Recognition – Provide recognition to the team and the individual members both internally and externally for their achievements and learnings. They don’t take credit themselves, but rather give it wholeheartedly to the team and its team members. They are proud of their teams and the accomplishments and they show it!
Celebrate – They ensure that successes and milestones, in addition to final results and achievements, are fully celebrated with the team. Celebrations do not have to be huge and cost a lot of money, but rather provide opportunities for the team to share in their success as a team and as a company.
We either succeed or fail as a team!
The GM of the Centerline team, which won 1st place in the Share Showcase, commented that they bought pizza for the entire plant when the one team representing just one line achieved their target because he wanted to recognize and celebrate the contributions that everyone in the plant made to this team achieving their goal. After all, he said, everyone supported in some manner by loaning labour or resources at some point or another. He went on to say that the plant either succeeds or fails as a team.
Leave a comment: What other common characteristics of the leaders of successful CI team do you see?
Vision knows no age limits. Titian began painting his “Battle of Lepanto” at age 98. Verdi began his opera Othello at 74. Ray Kroc opened his first McDonald’s at 56. It’s never too early nor too late for your dreams.
As a judge recently at the Share Showcase 2018 competition organized by High Performance Solutions, I was reminded as I listened to 12 high powered teams present their projects, that there are some very common characteristics of both the projects and the leaders on the teams. None of these are a surprise, but it was fascinating with the consistency to which these characteristics were demonstrated across the 12 competing teams.
The characteristics that really stood out are:
Simplicity – Ability to break down complex or difficult processes, functions or projects to very simple easily understood steps, tasks or responsibilities. Simple is better. Solutions don’t have to be complex or cost a lot of money to implement. Tools and solutions implemented can be simple but have significant positive and material impact on the problem tackled.
Visual – make key or important elements, control points, status, or results very visual with various visual control mechanisms, control boards, kanban cards, flow charts, etc.
Clear Goals/targets – Ensure that the project or team goal and individual targets are understood, clear and the entire team is aligned towards the achievement of the goal. Start with understanding the current condition, end state, and the gap needed to close.
Engagement – Total involvement and engagement from all levels, from shop floor employees to top management. Positions, titles, and hierarchy are neutralized and everyone has an equal stake of ownership in the projects and the outcomes.
Communication – Full transparency of the problem, boundaries to work within, budgets, challenges, and barriers/obstacles to name a few. Focus on improving basic communication between teams about a problem or process status.
Idea Collection – Everyone’s opinions and ideas are heard equally. No idea is ruled out. Everyone on the team has a voice and opportunity to share their ideas and suggestions.
Perseverance – Never give up. When something fails, learn from the failed attempt and try again.
Motivation – An overwhelmingly positive attitude about their jobs, contributions, their leaders, and company. Proud of what they have achieved and wanting to do more.
I love coming to work now! It’s not really even work.
This was a quote made by one of the employees of the winning team from Centerline. He really meant it. That is employee motivation and engagement any company wants to achieve!
Watch for the next post “Do You Have What it Takes to Lead Continuous Improvement Teams?”
Leave a comment – What other aspects or characteristics have you observed that successful Continuous Improvement teams exhibit?
Studies of peak performers are helping to make it clear that the nation’s most noble principle – all men are created equal – is not a formula for shaving the peaks down to some dusty plateau. It is a call to see that the “normal” person has the opportunity, and the ability, to stand out.