Companies can make rapid World Class Enterprise (WCE) improvement progress when everyone is pulling in that direction as a team. But how do you get that kind of teamwork? It starts with understanding the environmental elements in the workplace that support teamwork. These four elements are:

  1. High levels of two-way communication throughout the organization.

  2. Team members with diverse backgrounds.

  3. Common purpose, motivated by mission. A strongly developed vision and mission for the organization helps all team members make the right decisions and saves time in the decision-making process. One has only to ask, “Does this decision support the goals of the organization?”

  4. Common goals, common measurements. Teamwork is enhanced when all team members understand the goals of the team and the organization, and common measurements, understood by everyone, are used to assess the progress made.

For purposes of this discussion, the above elements No. 3 and No. 4 are the topic (it assumes No. 1 and No. 2 are in place).

In general, most organizations can successfully set common purposes and goals and these goals at the Leadership Team level are typically financial. In this case, we’ll assume there are Policy Deployment/WCE implementation activities which are supporting and driving to the achievement of the organization’s financial goals. The problem is, these companies then send conflicting messages to their associates as to how management uses and decides performance evaluations, promotions, rewards and bonus systems. We want to implement WCE, so we change and improve, but in reality we are trying to build a “Lean Culture” based on performance evaluations, promotions, rewards and bonus systems that were designed for a “traditional” business environment.
 
These conflicting messages are confusing to everyone and can be used by the WCE brick walls (usually middle managers or supervisors) and naysayers to support their “let’s do it the way we have always done it” position. Here are the things that should be looked at:
 
Performance Evaluations
Make sure management evaluations consider:  

  • Leadership, including being the model and example of the performance and culture the organization is trying to create
  • Communication activities (both verbal and visual)
  • Teamwork
  • Commitment to continuous improvement using lean tools and techniques as the “system” to achieve the organization’s goals (policy deployment) 

Supervisory evaluations should include:

  • Being the model and example of the performance and culture the organization is trying to create
  • Development of coaching, mentoring and teaching skills
  • Commitment to associate empowerment
  • Commitment to team based activities
  • Teamwork
  • Commitments to continuous improvement using Lean tools and techniques as their way of helping to achieve organization’s goals

Hourly associate evaluations should include:

  • Development of an understanding of the performance and culture the organization is trying to create
  • Commitment to, and use of, the continuous improvement tools and techniques of lean as their way of helping the organization achieve its goals
  • Commitment to team-based activities
  • Teamwork

Promotions, Pay Increases & Bonuses
Again, the goal is that no one gets promoted, or financially rewarded unless they are leaders and contributors to the WCE implementation. No conflicting messages! 

Promoting a Brick Wall Supervisor – A Real Example
A small manufacturing company (less than 100 people) started a lean implementation. In the first year, the company made what it defined as good progress even though its most senior supervisor did not support the Lean implementation. The improvements made in the first year could all be attributed to the efforts of the shop-floor associates.
 
The supervisor was a classic example of a “brick wall to change” disguised as a member of management. In lean planning meetings, he would say “yes, yes, yes” to lean. But when he returned to the shop floor, it was no, no, no to any improvement activities. “Just do it the way we have always done it” was his mantra.

When it was pointed out early on that this supervisor was an issue, top management, to a fault, was very loyal to this long-term associate. “He will come around, he will eventually understand.” He didn’t change and, to our amazement, eventually was promoted. The lean implementation stalled, and armed with a promotion, the improved processes actually went back to what the supervisor felt comfortable with. The associates on the shop floor quickly gave up and did what the supervisor told them to do!

About the author:
Larry Rubrich is the president of WCM Associates LLC. For more information, visit www.wcmfg.com or call 260-637-8064.