Motivation, Workplace

Bullies in the workplace – How they affect productivity?

Have you ever experience one of the following in your workplace: personal attacks like yelling or threats? Insults or laughing at you when you fail? Spreading rumors, sabotage, personal information like performance appraisal made public? Unrealistic deadlines or being pushed to complete a task for which you have not been trained?

Those are examples of bullying, and it does exist in the workplace. The perpetrator can be someone who feels threatened, is insecure, or jealous. It is unable to do his/her job or not feel competent enough to be successful.

The consequences of this behavior go from personal issues to productivity loss. Personal issues include health complications, self-esteem, or emotional. Targets are very skilled, highly competent people with a lot of technical knowledge. It can be a new employee who has been very successful in a similar role, with years of experience. Likable people or those prone to support continuous improvement initiatives are also targets.

I have been a witness to this kind of behavior, it is horrible. It not only affects the target but the people around as well. It takes away your peace of mind and your focus. It makes you feel that if you are successful enough; you will be the next target. Bullying creates stress, which is a source of hypertension, depression, and anxiety. Sickness creates attendance problems. Work accumulation, not meeting due dates, and customer issues are caused by attendance.

This cost money: a higher absenteeism rate usually creates over time. More use of medical insurance will increase premiums and compensation claims. The team stress level increases, losing focus and decreasing morale. The situation creates a hostile work environment which is a step away from possible lawsuits. Sooner or later bullying targets resign. With he or she, the motivation to work and practice continuous improvement goes out of the door too. The worst part is that the bully stays. Along with him or her, the fear, incompetence, inefficiency, and lack of commitment also stay.

As leaders, we need to be in the lookout for bullies and stop their behavior, for the benefit of our employees. It is our responsibility to promote a healthy work environment. No lean journey will be successful if we allow bullying. Respect for the people is the most important mindset for continuous improvement and bullying is not part of it.

Motivation, Workplace

What can I do to keep my team together?

These days, manufacturing job candidates’ offer is not enough for the demand. Lose experience is critical for the plant operation. The continuous improvement journey is affected as well. Many experienced employees started to retire, which makes retention more important than ever. Whatever happened during their first ninety days can determine how long they stay. What we have to do to keep our team minds away from thinking about getting a new job? A good pay rate and benefits are important but they are not everything.

Employees are looking for a workplace where they are treated with respect, where their ideas and needs matter. A place where they have the tools they need to do their work without safety issues or hassles.

Many new hires are millennials. What are they looking for in their workplace? They want to have a meaningful job, a place where they can make a difference. They also want to grow, learn and feel other people care about them. Millennials want to have a peer, mentor, or somebody who helps and advice not just train them. They are looking for companies that commit to their development the same way they will commit to the company.

What is common to everybody is the need to feel good, respected and that their leaders care about them. People appreciate working in a positive environment where they feel trusted and listened to. They want to feel the trust to talk about what affects their work performance.

This trust does not appear out of the blue, it is built over time. When somebody from the team is struggling, let’s remember them that all of us have bad times. Encourage them to overcome those issues, do not try to diminish them. Listened and let them the chance to vent. Treat employees like people, not a commodity.

Training during onboarding is a great chance to start showing that you care. For some high skill, critical positions it is easy for new hires to feel overwhelmed. There is too much to learn in a short period. High levels of stress can hurt performance. This is a perfect time to encourage communication. Reassure them to ask not just about procedures and policies but about how they feel as human beings.

The supervisor has the burden of making the employee feels appreciated, but the manager plays an important role. A small chat with new employees to say hello and welcome them to the team is enough to establish a relationship. Do not stop there, during the next couple of days or weeks talk with them again. This time ask how they feel, and what they need. Clarify what the job priorities are. It is important to clarify that nobody expects them to know everything. Encourage them to make questions, and clarify doubts.

Onboarding is not the only time for this kind of conversation. You already build the foundation for a respectful relationship with your employees. A relationship based on trust, do not stop listening or caring about their needs or concerns. Stopping will means the end of it.

There is no guarantee that this will incline the scale towards a stay in the company vs. leaving. But, it will help to keep them on the job rather than leaving. Do you want to keep your team together? Start by listening and being sensitive to their needs.

Continuous Improvement, Motivation

To lead your team so they can led you

It happens time after time, I feel down and our employees cheer me up!

As leaders, we are responsible for the lives of our employees but yet many of us don’t understand that important piece of our job.  When I started to work as a team leader, my father told me a couple of rules that he always followed himself.  His first rule was to always respect the people, never ask them to do something you are not willing to do yourself.  The second rule was to never forget that you are responsible for them, their security, their learning, and their success.

Over the years I kept these rules as my north, nothing like practice to learn day by day how to be a better leader.  Through the years I learned that employees look up to their supervisors until they don’t.  When the supervisor shows no respect or care, people stop respecting them and after that their commitment and motivation are gone too.

I make a conscious effort every day to respect. lead, motivate, develop, recognize the good, teach the right way and never get complacent using continuous improvement as the road map to success.  Some days are better than others, but something of this is working because I have seen many of my employees to grow up to become great leaders.  I can tell the difference between employees that enjoy their jobs and those who do not.  When you find those employees on your way, their passion and attitude towards their work cheer you up.

Our job as leaders is to exercise our responsibility and keep working to positively affect the lives of our employees.  Motivation, positivism, and commitment are contagious, let’s spread it!

Motivation, Workplace

Is it better together?

“The running thread through my career has been the notion that when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together in a collective effort, things change for the better,” President Obama

Do you remember when you were a child and your parents ask you to clean your room?  Not that you wanted to do it but if you had to do it any way you wanted to do it your way.  But your mother insisted on telling you where you have to store every action figure, every puzzle, every little thing you have.  After a short but intense struggle, you end up doing what she said.

When we are trying to improve a process, most of the time we feel the urgency to jump straight to the answer without even asking what happen.  That same urgency pushes us to tell people what we think has to be done without asking for their input.  Imposing ideas in the workplace is never a good way to improve the process much less the work environment.  It is just like the children following his mother’s instructions with reluctance, not a single intention to make it work.

A visit to the gemba is never complete without interaction with the employees. Observation of the process is critical but when the time comes to ask for why’s, do not ask yourself or other managers, ask the person(s) doing that process.  Even if the answer is obvious, you need to engage the employees by asking with respect, guiding them through the root cause analysis process.  Allow them the chance to express their ideas and proof them right.  If they were wrong, still there is a learning process.  Take the learn lessons with you and guide them through a start over.

The more people participate in this process, more and better ideas will come through and together we will change things for the better.  That is the spirit of a problem-solving people-focused workplace.