The version of Internet Explorer is outdated.

This website can not be viewed with your browser!

Upgrade your browser to the latest version (Internet Explorer 8) or install another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome

The Complete Business Leader - Leadership training program - Click to View/Download Brochure

Ram is the Head – Sales & Marketing for the company and he is in the Weekly review with Manufacturing head. The other functional heads are also there in the meeting. Ram is struggling to get the commitment from Manufacturing head for the deliveries that need to happen in the next week. 

 

Individual Problems and Collective Suffering

 

The Problems of the Manufacturing Head seems to be unending. There are several Part shortages on a daily basis as the Customer demand is going up without notice. There are Quality problems in the New Products introduced and the Process is not yet stabilized for a big number of Products introduced in to the Manufacturing in the past 6 months. The Machines are having higher break down hours as the Preventive Maintenance is not happening regularly. The list is long. 

 

 

The Quality Head, Materials Head, Engineering Head spoke about their own problems. All the Problems sound genuine. No one seems to have a good solution with some time lines to implement. The Weekly meeting ended with a few arguments, blaming each other and without a proper solution to the problems on hand. 

 

This is a very common situation in many Manufacturing Companies that I have seen. These weekly meetings go on without end and normally gives the same output as explained above. 

 

What is the solution?

 

How to ensure a good team work happens in the company and the Customer is serviced much better?

 

I think the Root cause lies in the way the Manufacturing Companies are Operating. We seem to be pushing the Functional teams away from each other and this is resulting in lack of team work and lack of respect to the internal Customers and bad service to the external customers. 

 

There are five essentials to ensuring good Customer orientation in the company and promote Team work in the company.

01.  Stabilize the Routine: If the Routine is well defined and stable, the teams will have less flash points. The Routine in each function has to be defined in terms of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This is a continuous journey for Indian Companies as the growth is higher in our companies and things keep changing on the ground every day. A Company should recognize this need and put effort on stabilizing the routine. 

 

02.  CFT Culture: The Cross functional Team culture has to be promoted in the Company. Some critical elements in the CFT Culture :

a.     Goal deployment: Goals that have to be achieved together have to be deployed to ALL the relevant team members across the functions. 

 

b.     Working methodology: The CFTs should have a strong Work ethic and methodology. The methodology should promote a systematic achievement of Goals.

c.     Peer assessment: The team members have to be assessed by the Peers in addition to the Bosses. Peer assessment is very powerful and a Group assessment technique has to be used for this purpose.  

d.     Internal Customer rating: The company can promote the culture of rating by Internal Customers for all the Internal suppliers. This way the Internal Suppliers will get periodic feedback from the Internal Customers and they will have to act upon it. 

e.     Process based teams: It would be good to seat the teams as per the Process. For example, the team that fulfills the orders of the Customers can sit together in one place. This team may consist of members from Sales, Purchase , Stores, Dispatch etc. This will ensure that the team understands each other and gets formed as a ‘real team’. 

03.  Functional orientation of Senior Leaders: The Senior Leaders are one of the main reasons why the Silos gets built up in the Companies. The attachment of the Senior Leaders to their teams and to their own Functional Points of view is a big issue. Functional point of view is important. But, the administrative point of view is a daily issue in any company without which the result will not happen. The role of the Senior leaders is to build Functional Competence in the Company. They should allow their team members to work along with the other Functional team members freely. The Senior Leaders should play a subtle role at the back ground to build the Functional excellence. The teams are more than capable of achieving the goals of the Company. If they play their teams too close to their chest, they would be doing a disservice to the company. 

 

The Leaders of the Company have to build this work culture in the Company. The Senior Leaders may need some help in this aspect. 

 

04.  Training as teams: If the Cross Functional Teams have to stick together and work together, they have to be treated as teams in every sense. They have to be trained in Leadership skills together as a team. While they may learn Functional skills individually, they have to be brought together as a team for teaching Leadership Skills. This would help in building them as a team. The Training should encourage talking about the working methodology of the team.

 

 

05.  Assessment and Rewards: The Cross Functional Teams should get assessed as Teams and a good part of the reward has to be given as a team. This would push the team members together. They earn as a team or lose as a team. 

 

A company has to learn the art of getting results from their teams. They can speed up their learning if they go about it in a systematic manner as explained.

 

END

 

 

Published in Leadership
Sunday, 10 March 2019 00:00

How good are you at Time management?

Whenever I hear the term ‘Time management’, it comes to my mind that we cannot Manage time. It keeps slipping away whether we do something or not. We can only Manage our work better. But, let us keep with this popular term for this article. 

 

Image result for time management

Time Management is a serious problem for almost ALL Managers in the Indian Industry. Some would have realized it and many others may not even realize that they are not using their time well. The Managers that I have come across come in to the following few categories. 

 

Firefighters: These are the Managers who are forever putting off some fire. You can find many of them in Automotive industry. These Managers come early and go late (if they go home). Their Children see them rarely as they go to company even on a Sunday as they can ‘work peacefully’ on a Sunday. Many of them have got addicted to it. They keep telling whoever can listen that they are working for 18 hours a day and so on. The Firefighters do not even worry about Time Management. They have given up long back and now they just go with the wind. In most of the cases, their companies also have given up that ‘some Managers have to be dedicated to the fire fighting’. There is no fight back at all.

 

Minimalists: These are the Managers who may be in Discrete Manufacturing Companies. These Minimalists do not believe in taking up too much agenda on to their plate. Whatever is put on their plate by their Bosses will be handled forever. They are in no hurry to finish anything. They do not see any need for Time Management as they do not want to ‘hurry’ anything. Their Companies also have come to believe that nothing should be ‘hurried’. Whenever I took up this issue with these Managers, I have seen that their Managing Director defends them !! The belief that they should not ‘hurry’ is quite deep !! 

 

Trouble Shooters: These are the guys who love the adrenalin rush. Whenever there is trouble, these people are called. They are handling an emergency forever! If one emergency is over, they look for the next one. They feel Time Management is not for their type of work. 

 

Boss Pleaser: This Manager will do only things that are asked by the Boss. He will never take up any agenda without Boss asking him to do. They will complete it as the Boss asks them to. They are not managing their Time. Their Boss may be managing it, if at all. 

 

Image result for timid

Timid Manager: These are pushed around by just about everyone in the company. They are the people who would be going around with an expression of ‘carrying the world’. Always hunched and always under strain. They just don’t have time to manage time! 

 

There may be a very small percentage of Managers who are trying to manage their time and push a particular agenda of their own. I find this type of Managers to be a very small minority in the Industry.

 

 

 

What are the effects of not managing your time wisely?

 

When there is no concept of managing your work and managing time, only the Urgent and Important gets done. If you look at the Time Matrix, the First quadrant is the one that you would give attention to. By default you would wait for everything to come to First Quadrant to attend to it. 

 

Image result for time matrix

 

 

So, there is no proactive approach. You would become thoroughly reactive. You would be acting in the last minute for everything. If you are still keeping your Customers happy, then you would be spending disproportionate resources to keep your Customers happy. While the Business would be growing, your profit will become lesser and lesser as you are becoming more and more inefficient. 

 

An organization can loose Top line opportunities / Bottom line in this situation. But, very often there will be no awareness of this and many Indian Companies are accepting that this is a ‘normal Business situation’. This is more worrying factor !! 

 

What can be done?

 

Bad Time Management and Bad Work Management Is a Symptom and this is not the root cause. The Root cause lies in the way the Business Is run. The way the employees manage their Work. 

 

01.  Work Management System: Create an environment of Employees taking responsibility and are made accountable. When every Employee takes responsibility for his/her work, then the environment would be amenable for better Work Management / Time Management. This can be achieved by introducing a Work Management System (WMS) where the Organizational Goals would be deployed to the entire organization in a systematic manner and reviews are done in a systematic manner. Every employee is expected to take responsibility for his/her KPIs and they are expected to take Corrective and Preventive actions when they don’t meet targets. 

 

Addressing this overall environment issue is very much essential to ensure your team is managing their work diligently. Without addressing this Root cause, you can not solve the problem.

 

02.  Promote Planning: Once the goals are clearly given to the employees, the Company needs to promote Planning in the company. There have to be Annual Planning for achieving the goals. There has to be Quarterly Planning to make Annual Plan a reality. The Quarterly plans have to be translated in to Monthly / Weekly plans. Each week every Manager has to spend some time to review his last week and plan for the next week on a daily basis. There may be something that comes to everyone without planning. There will be Quadrant 1 activity. ‘Urgent and Important’. But, as you keep up with your Planning, the Quadrant 1 will reduce and Quadrant 2 will increase. The Planning should help us keep the focus on ‘what needs to be done’. Initially our success may be small. But, an Organization has to persist to help their Managers to get a hold on the Work Management / Time Management. 

 

03.  Measure your Time usage: To improve something, you need to measure it. You can measure your Time usage with two Metrics:

 

Image result for measuring

a.     Proportion of time that you are able to plan: If you are at the work for 8 hours, are you able to plan for full 8 hours? I would recommend that you should try to plan as much proportion of your time as possible. If you want to keep yourself open to helping your colleagues, you don’t want to plan for sometime, then don’t push yourself to achieve 100%. But, try to take control of 100% of your time. 

b.     Success rate in sticking to the plan: You may be able to plan for 100% of your time. But, you may not be able to work as per plan. When you just start off the improvement effort, your success rate would be small. But, you have to persist to ensure you improve your Success rate. 

 

Every Manager should review these two Metrics every week. Every Boss should spend some time with his Team reviewing this and helping them to take more control of their work. 

 

Indian Companies are losing a lot of opportunities to improve their top line and bottom line as their Managers do not have control of their work/time. 

 

The first step to regaining control is to put a ‘Work Management System’ in place. 

 

END

Published in Leadership

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