Walking through an automotive assembly plant, the environment was remarkably clean and organized, revealing a strong quality culture. Weeks later, when touring through one of their competitor’s plants, the passion for quality was severely lacking with disorganized work methods as well as unfocused attitudes. It is interesting that a general perception of product quality in the market is consistent with my perception of their facilities. Whether visiting an industrial factory or fast-food restaurant, appearance is a reliable first impression on how well a business is run.
If a business appears organized, orderly, and clean, their ability to run a business is higher. The converse is also true. While it takes much more than great housekeeping to produce quality results, high-quality housekeeping has a profound spill over effect into all aspects of the business from quality to sustainability to attitudes.
While Housekeeping ultimately is the responsibility of the site executive, one Best Practice that can systematically improve housekeeping is a Housekeeping WILL, an acronym for “What It Looks Like.” The system works like this:
1. The boss and team collaborate to define their vision of a high-quality work area, i.e., What It Looks Like. The 5-S process fits well here.
2. The work area housekeeping and organization are brought up to the new standard and new ideas are incorporated.
3. When finished, photographs are made of the work area and prominently displayed throughout as constant reminders of What It Looks Like. Standard Operating Procedures for housekeeping are documented.
4. The team conducts self-audits, rotating the audit responsibilities.
5. An operator or executive passing by can glance at the photos and verify if the team is living up to their vision.
A Best Practice of a Best-In-Class organization is high quality housekeeping. A quality work environment makes for a quality result. A cluttered work area makes for cluttered minds and results. Basically, if it looks good, chances are higher that it is good; if it looks bad, chances are higher that it is bad.
Everyone should make a WILL. …And Pass It On!
Incidentally, a great influence on Housekeeping is Sustainability, which stimulates a constant focus on keeping materials, waste, and recyclables sorted. This week’s quote is from Mike, Plant Manager at a Zero Waste Plant: “Our Sustainability Focus improved everything in the business from Housekeeping to Safety to Productivity to Attitudes …everything! The ripple effect was obvious.”
“Do you think I need to be more organized?” … These words formed the question Jimmie asked the team during the Round Robin Team Building Meeting.
…Ken’s kind response: “Yes, you can do better but couldn’t we all?!”
…Phil’s respectful words: “Jimmie, if you would spend more time organizing your work, it would help us do our jobs better too.”
…Then, Billy’s tense words: “Jimmie, you are the most disorganized manager I’ve ever worked with in my life! In fact, your disorganization drives me crazy and makes it hard to support you, your projects, and your team’s projects!”
…Frank, after a long pause and talking slow: “I tell you what, Jimmie …If you could be just a little more organized, you could help the team more than you know and we would all be happier too.”
Jimmie scanned the team’s eyes, possibly looking for a lifeline. He had obviously asked the question for a reason and the answers confirmed his fears. And then, Jimmie’s deliberate words had a profound affect on building the team: “I thought I might be disorganized, but I did not realize how much it was hurting you. I’m sorry. Please, help me here guys… How can I improve?”
And then, Jimmie was respectfully offered tangible suggestions from the team who wanted to help him. Just as important, Jimmie acted on those suggestions over the following weeks, which garnered more support.
This is an example of another Round Robin Team Building format that is an effective Best Practice, especially with small teams numbering about seven people. It works best when the team’s maturity is high, they know each other well, and the meeting is kept on a respectful tenor. This Round Robin Team Building process goes like this:
1. The room is arranged with chairs in a circle and the team members facing each other.
2. A facilitator leads the process, encouraging balanced participation, open dialogue, and respectful debate.
3. Each team member takes a turn asking a Round Robin Question of their choice from a prepared list. (For a list of potential questions, click on this link: Round Robin Q’s.pages)
4. Then, going around the circle, each team member answers the stated question. Everyone is respectful, so by the time everybody answers the question, the questioner has an accurate understanding of perceptions as well as ideas on how to improve.
Round Robin Team Building Meetings are usually not as blunt as the example above. Team Building Meetings always entail some risk, but that is easily mitigated with some preplanned strategic thinking and positive direction from the boss or facilitator. The rewards of a Quality Team Building Meetings are the building of trust, collaboration, and connection, which improves attitudes, and then delivers results.
… And Pass It On!
Quote from the late great, wonderfully hilarious, and sincere Robin Williams: “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”