Orders had dropped off. Inventory had built to unhealthy levels, and we needed to take plant production days out. Having exhausted all other tactics to scale back, we began looking at reduced schedules involving temporary and rotating layoffs of 2,000 employees. Then, the executive team came up with the idea to bring next quarter’s training and team building meetings forward. The responsibility was there anyway, so why not do it earlier and reduce future liability? Yes, the question, “how do we pay for this?” was clearly on our mind, but our analysis showed a financial payback.
Shutting the plant down for three days, we focused the natural work groups on the theme, “Building the Team, Building the Trust, Building Tomorrow.” All planned training for compliance, operations, and technology was also brought forward.
The result? … The next quarter, every business metric exceeded expectations! Frontline attitudes and teamwork soared. And when Sales improved to support the increased production, we were off to the races. The plan worked, and the improvements were sustained. As momentum continued to build, we realized that we could link the performance gains directly back to the team building event. Team Building made money!
This event, along with hundreds of other team building meetings, validated the positive effect of a systematic and planned team building process. Time and again, I have seen planned team building correlating directly with improved results.
Most team building is done on the frontline during the daily business dynamics with a leader’s example, coaching, and communications. Planned Team Building adds that extra component to glue the team together, increase understanding, and solidify relationships. This is not a locker room pep talk at half-time but a time between games where the team goes to deeper levels to connect relationships, purpose, and plans. It gets personal. It gets results.
Team Building starts with the leader being a great example, and is brought to full potential with deliberate Team Building events …and when done properly, it makes money!
Make it a great week! …And Pass It On!
Quote from Coach K of Duke University: “Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”
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.”