Who Sets the Standard?Dec 30, 2022
One of the first things I learned after I moved from running a press to training on and implementing Lean Manufacturing initiatives nearly 25 years ago was how labor efficiency rates were set. In most cases, the number of widgets that were expected on an hourly basis from any given process was based on the cycle time of the machine involved and some variance for set ups and adjustments. I remember feeling really uncomfortable in the years leading up to that any time an engineer showed up at the press I was running with their stopwatch; I thought they were measuring whether or not I was doing what I should be doing! That always pushed me to work even faster, which really frustrated the old-timers who had learned to milk the system and stretch things out during those time studies so the hourly standards would remain easy for them to meet…
Having worked with teams in nearly every industry at this point, I see so much value in having a baseline expectation for productivity. This not only gives each team member a clear understanding of what they need to be working toward, it also serves as a tool for estimating budgets and workforce needs. The more accurate these labor standards are, the more effective the entire organization can be… In setting those standards, it’s always best if the press operators, the engineers, and the management team have open communication throughout the process to ensure a true representation of the work involved is actually captured.
Fair enough, Wes… But what does that have to do with leaders setting the right example for their teams on a daily basis? Having high (but still achievable) expectations in place for the performance we need from our teams makes huge difference in the amount of productivity we see, regardless of the industry we’re in, but how about the things that require a bit of discretionary effort - those things that don’t fall within the routine of a specified process or procedure?
That’s where it becomes absolutely critical for us to provide a real life leadership example if we have any hope of getting what we need from the folks we’re responsible for! I closed last time by challenging you to consider whether or not you were excited about your team’s current performance. Now I’m going to push you a little harder…
What kind of standard have you set for your team? Not just for how much production they need to churn out each day but for the types of behaviors they use to achieve those goals! And what kind of example are you setting when it comes to exceeding expectations on things like internal communication, customer service, or even growth and development? Do they see you exemplifying the things you’re expecting them to do?
I often hear business owners ask how they can get their team members to care about the organization as much as they do. That’s often brushed off as impossible since so many folks believe an employee has little reason to care as much as the person who owns the company. I’ll argue that point! While they may indeed care in different ways and about different things, as leaders we can absolutely set the standard for how our team members care just as much as we do - but we need to be very intentional about providing an example that they can buy into, one that truly speaks to them! And that’s exactly where we’ll pick up next time: how we can move from saying to doing!