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In a Manufacturing Company, Problems are a day to day normal. Every Company would have Process problems, Product problems , People problems. The first two, Process and Product Problems are the ones we are addressing in this short Article.  

Living with the Problems

I have observed in companies that the same Process and Product Problems exist for a very long time. Various groups of Managers would have claimed victory over these problems and yet somehow the same problems exist forever. An Entrepreneur who would have been there for a long time in the organization would have seen that the problems are as old as him/her in the organization. 

I also notice that most of the Managers / Engineers are simply not equipped with the Problem solving abilities. I understand that the Engineers are not taught any Problem solving methodology in their Engineering course. They do not have any theoretical knowledge of the Problem solving. 

In Automotive Industry the Problem solving is better evolved. The Engineers / Managers in the Automotive Industry would have been taught some Problem Solving methodology. But, again my observation is that very small percentage of these Engineers / Managers would have learnt how to solve problems in a systematic manner. I would put this percentage at about 5%. 

It is very important that each of the Engineers in Manufacturing Companies, learn how to solve Problems. This is the most fundamental skill that is needed in this industry. Every Manufacturing Company should create Problem Solving Ninjas in their company. 

How do you create a group of Problem Solving Ninjas in your company?A few steps can be followed:

 

 

01.  Select a Problem Solving Methodology: There are several Problem Solving methodologies available. Eg. 8D, QC Story etc. A Company can formulate their own methodology borrowing good practices from all formal Methodologies that are available today. A Company should have a formal Problem Solving methodology and the process of it should be written down in detail. 

02.  Formulate an E-Learning Lesson to teach your Problem Solving Methodology: To teach the methodology in a uniform manner and to test the Trainees, an E-Learning lesson can be very useful. A E-Learning lesson has to be produced well. It requires experts to do this. It has to be used along with Physical Projects with Certified trainers within the company. When you start on this journey, you may use outside agency to train the Trainers. 

03.  Certify the Trainees: Define the Proficiency levels that are needed for Engineers / Managers in various functions. Train the Trainees in theory. Every Trainee should carry out a physical project in the correct methodology. The Physical Project has to be evaluated by experts from outside. This is essential to ensure the quality of the Problem solving Ninjas. On the basis of the Theoretical knowledge and Practical knowledge in terms of solving actual problems, the Trainees are certified. 

04.  Regular Problem solving:The Trainees should be allotted problems continuously and they should be guided to solve problems. Only this will ensure they learn the Problem solving deeply.  

05.  Problem solving app:It will be good to develop a ‘Problem Solving App’ that will have all the Problems in the company and that will allot the problems to various Problem Solvers continuously. This App should also monitor the stages of the Problem solving and follow up with the Trainees. 

06.  Keep improving the methodology regularly: Majority of the Problems in a Manufacturing Company are simple and do not need advanced tools. But, a small percentage of the problems would need Statistical tools like DOE, Regression Equations and so on. The Problem Solving methodology has to be continuously improved with these advanced tools. The Certification has to be upgraded for these additional tools. 

07.  Giving high importance to Problem solving: A Company should give high importance to the Problem solving and the importance should be reflected in the Performance Management System in a company. Employees who are ‘Problem Solving Ninjas’ should be rewarded. 

 

A Company that is able to solve the Product / Process Problems can progress very well in satisfying the customer needs. A Company that can keep upgrading its’ ability to satisfy the ever increasing demands of the Customer would obviously progress well in the Business. 

 

Develop Problem Solving Ninjas in your Company!! 

 

END

Published in Quality
Wednesday, 06 February 2019 00:00

Do you appreciate your team members

Published in Leadership

Ram is having his Performance Appraisal letter in his hand and he is feeling terrible! He got an ‘Average’ rating and he was expecting an ‘Outstanding’ rating and a Promotion too. The general mood in the office is reflecting a ‘Home in mourning’. People who got ‘Outstanding’ were unhappy that they did not get Promotion. People who got ‘Outstanding’ rating and ‘Promotion’ feel they did not get enough increment to go with the new position. There does not seem to be anyone who is happy ! That is making Ram’s mood even more mournful! Ram’s Boss had been giving him very good feedback through out the year. Ram had been asking his Boss for feedback and generally Boss always gave a Positive feedback that Ram is doing quite well. He would mention some issues in overall performance of the Company. But, always ended saying Ram is doing very well. Now, at the end of the year Ram is having a big Surprise ! Ram’s Boss blamed it on the ‘Normalisation’ and kept saying ‘I recommended better rating for you, HR did not allow it’. Ram does not know what to do. When he enquires with HR, they say ‘We go by your Boss’s rating’. Ram is stuck between a ‘Rock’ and a ‘Hard Place’. 

Sounds familiar ? 

When I look at the ‘Performance Management’ in companies, this is the normal situation in most of the Companies. Those days when the Performance appraisal letters are given, generally mourning feeling is pervasive in the Company. The Supervisors / Bosses who give rating are busy bad mouthing the ‘System’. The same Supervisors / Bosses never give constructive feedback to the team members during the year. 

My observation is that the Supervisors / Bosses usually do not have the conviction and courage to look in to the eyes of their team member and tell him/her what is going well and what is not going well. They never clearly tell them where the Team members have to improve. They give some general remarks ! 

Why are the Supervisors / Bosses behaving this way? I find that it has several reasons. But, one of the important one is to do with the urge of the Supervisors / Bosses to be ‘Popular’ with their Team. But, this is only one surface level symptom. The root cause lies much deeper. It is to do with an absence of ‘Performance Culture’ in the Company. 

Essentials for a Good Performance Culture

It is essential for a Company to have a Culture where Good Performance is valued and the definition for Good Performance is clearly defined and understood by everyone concerned. 

01.  Sharp and Clear Targets:The foundation for a good Performance Culture is ‘Clear Targets’ at all levels in the Company. There are many companies who have Clear targets at the Top and ‘Unclear or No Targets’ at every other level. This creates a situation where the Supervisors / Bosses are not clear about what to expect from their teams. So, everything is okay. Even the Supervisor / Boss who is serious about Performance will not know how to make his Team members accountable. Not to talk about the ‘Popular Leaders’. A Target Deployment system has to be implemented.

02.  Critical Business Reviews: Even if the Targets are deployed properly, if the Bosses are not reviewing periodically, the Performance culture will not be there. A good Business Review needs to follow a certain process. The Business Reviews have to happen at ALL levels and not just by Senior people. Conducting a review is equivalent to the concerned Boss taking responsibility to get results from his team. If only senior people are reviewing, then responsibility lies only with senior people. The Bosses have to give Critical feedback to the team. This is very important. If they soft pedal, then they are not helping the team.

03.  Regular Feedback to the team members: Other than the Business Reviews, each of the Team member has to be given Personal feedback about his/her performance. I would recommend a Quarterly feedback. The feedback has to be critical, acknowledging the good things and where the person has to improve. If there are good discussions / debates, it is very good.

04.  Train the Bosses / Supervisors: Every company should have a written down Performance Management System and all those involved should be trained formally in the System. It is worth having a KPI for all the Leaders about his/her effectiveness on Performance Management System. Companies need to create a discussion around the Performance Management System within the Company. 

05.  Promote a Self-Improvement Culture:  Every Company can do this by encouraging the Leaders to take a 360 Degree feed back (Co-ordinated by an outside agency is better) and creating an ‘Individual Development Plan’ for every Leader.  This has to start from the Top. A Company that can successfully create a Self-Improvement Culture can be successful on creating a Performance Culture as everyone would be reconciled that it is okay to be ‘Not Perfect’ on just about everything and it is okay to say that ‘I need to improve in this area’. 

There can be more elements. But, these are absolutely essential. Companies need to acknowledge that it is not very easy to maintain ‘Performance Culture’ and have enough focus on this Vital aspect of Business. 

 

END

 
Published in People Productivity
Monday, 04 February 2019 00:00

Leader's Walk

Published in Leadership

During my career, I have met many wonderful Managers/Leaders. Loved working with all of them. When I observe their growth and performance in their careers, I notice that there are very small percentage of the Leaders who are highly effective on the ground. These are the System Builders / Trail Blazers. Others also would have been successful in their own scale. But, on my scale a very small percentage of people are able to deliver on a scale that will help companies / Functions to transform themselves. These are the people who set their own standards around them. They are not satisfied unless they push the boundaries of Excellence. 

 

Indian Manufacturing needs such Leaders in Thousands. We are a Country that is obsessed with Cricket. In Cricket as we can see the Team has transformed itself over the past decade or so and the type of Cricket that our team plays is based on Aggression and Self-Confidence. We need Kohlis , Dhonis and Rohits in our  Indian Manufacturing! We need to develop the Confidence that we can set the BEST standards in the world and maintain them. We need to believe that we are no less than anyone else in the world in terms of Quality and Excellence. 

 

So, what makes the small percentage of Managers different that they are able to deliver much more than others? 

 

In my view, the following are essential for a Manager to Deliver ‘Life Transforming’ Improvements to Companies. 

 

 

 

01.  Good People Managers: These Managers or better to say Leaders are good with People. They are not ‘Popular’ Leaders who try to either please the Boss or please the team. They are highly focused on the task with a perfect blend of concern for People. This concern for people is different in that they do not try to just please them with small things. They are concerned about the People and want them to step up in their life. So, they are happier letting the team work hard, stretch and set a new standard. There is nothing more motivating to a Team than achieving some big result and becoming part of a ‘Winning team’. Each of us may get such experiences probably 2 or utmost 3 times in a career. Let me say that you would have a better chance to participate in such experiences if you are a Coach !! JJYou can touch that many more People / Companies. 

02.  Translocating learning: These Leaders are good at Learning in one context, taking the learning to another context, modifying it to suit the situation and implementing the learning to get Big results! This is a very rare skill and I have not seen many people possessing it. Many of us are good at Learning or so do we think. I would say someone is a good learner if he/she can use the learning in a different situation with some modifications. You would have learnt TPM / TQM principles in your life. I have seen many people who try to implement the principles very rigidly saying ‘this is how it has to be done’. But, the Effective Leaders know how to modify their learning to suit the new situation. 

03.  Having Vision and Clarity about next step: Many of us are either good at envisioning the future or we are good at doing something today. Very few Leaders are clear about both. The Effective Leaders can envision the future clearly and also be clear about the steps that we have to take today / tomorrow / next week and so on. Linking the present to the future is a very important skill that is not seen commonly. This is the big reason for companies to be rooted in future and routed at work on a daily basis ! 

04.  Hands on : Effective Leaders are always hands on as required. They know when to get in to the Shop floor and when to bring people to the Conference hall. Most often they get in to the Shop floor (Shop floor for a Sales Person is the Market) when they introduce some new approach. They would like to work along with the team to see whether the new practice will work. 

05.  Passionate: Effective Leaders use their heart. A Leader who does not have his/her heart in the work cannot deliver superlative results! Treating a Job as ‘Just a Job’ that gives monthly salary is not okay. The Effective Leader will motivate his team to work with heart. The heart has to motivate us in the right way. We have to use the Positive energy of heart and minimise the negative energy.

06.  Can Learn on their feet: Today the Businesses are changing very fast and the environment around us is changing very fast. Effective Leaders are capable of Learning on their feet. They adapt to the new situations and help their teams to adapt easily. They are not stuck with ‘one best way of getting results’. 

07.  Holding on to what they believe in: While the Effective leaders are not stubborn people, they have to be holding on to what they believe will bring result as they are the trail blazers. They often chose path less trodden or never trodden. That is why they get superior results. They are the ‘aberration’ in otherwise ‘Boss/Team pleasing’ crowd around them. Many of us may feel they are stubborn people. But, otherwise they can’t be different and produce ‘different results’. Bosses would be wise to encourage such people. 

 

 

Are you an Effective Manager ? How can you improve yourself ? 

 

 

Published in Leadership