Kaizen pro­posal for a dic­ta­tor-man­ager

Business World - - Labor & Management - REY ELBO Send work­place ques­tions to elbonomics@gmail.com or via https://reyelbo.con­sult­ing Anonymity is guar­an­teed for those who seek it.

My boss is a jerk who doesn’t lis­ten to em­ployee sug­ges­tions. He of­ten jokes: “My way or the high­way.” I know that this ap­proach makes the em­ploy­ees be­come de­mo­ti­vated, if not make them act like robots. As one of his man­age­rial deputies in the depart­ment, I’m plan­ning to es­tab­lish a Kaizen pro­gram to help peo­ple come out with a struc­tured sys­tem to help stream­line our busi­ness op­er­a­tions and cut costs at the same time. I’m wor­ried that even my idea would be dumped. What’s the best ap­proach to con­vince our boss? – Wor­ried Much.

Your sit­u­a­tion re­minded me of Steve Jobs who was of­ten de­scribed as a ruth­less, dic­ta­tor boss. He was known to have vi­o­lated many ba­sic rules of ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and lead­er­ship. “He was not a con­sen­sus-builder but a dic­ta­tor who lis­tened mainly to his own in­tu­ition. He was a ma­ni­a­cal mi­cro­man­ager,” ac­cord­ing to Fred­er­ick Allen, au­thor of “Steve Jobs Broke Ev­ery Lead­er­ship Rule. Don’t Try it your­self,” an ar­ti­cle that was pub­lished by Forbes.

But Jobs was the same per­son who said: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart peo­ple and then tell them what to do; we hire smart peo­ple so they can tell us what to do.” That’s why I be­lieve that your boss has the same ca­pac­ity and men­tal­ity to act like Jobs, but still would be open to many em­ployee ideas, ex­cept that you may not have taken the right ap­proach in con­vinc­ing him, maybe due in part to his tough man­age­ment style.

Let’s give your boss the ben­e­fit of the doubt. Don’t lose hope. I’m sure he has been mis­in­ter­preted due to some is­sues that may have emerged in past deal­ings with other peo­ple.

One of the ba­sic tools for man­age­ment suc­cess is the abil­ity to lis­ten. This is par­tic­u­larly true as em­ployee en­gage­ment and em­pow­er­ment re­place the tra­di­tional top-to-bot­tom flow of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. In­deed, solid twoway com­mu­ni­ca­tion is im­pos­si­ble un­less you and your boss mas­ter the art of be­ing a good lis­tener.

So, how would you con­vince your dic­ta­to­rial boss to ac­cept a Kaizen pro­gram? Take time to think through the fol­low­ing: One, change the for­eign Kaizen terms into some­thing generic. Don’t give your boss the ex­cuse that Kaizen is only for the Ja­panese and ex­clu­sively for the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. Re­move that clear ob­sta­cle. Re­gard­less of your in­dus­try fo­cus, use a generic term like “em­ployee sug­ges­tion pro­gram” or “em­ployee par­tic­i­pa­tion scheme” or sim­i­lar theme with the same force and ef­fect.

If not, use the term “Lean Think­ing” or “Lean Prob­lem-Solv­ing” as it is be­ing used in the US. It started with sim­i­lar pro­grams like Lean Health­care, when ap­plied in med­i­cal clinics and hos­pi­tals, or Lean Bank­ing, when ap­plied in banks and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, among oth­ers. You only have to dis­cover what would in­ter­est your boss and fo­cus it to your sec­tor.

Two, find a so­lu­tion to some­thing that turns off your boss. If he’s com­plain­ing about pro­duc­tion de­lays, of­fer some ideas on how the workers are try­ing their best to elim­i­nate the back­log. Jus­tify the fact that man­age­ment can­not han­dle it alone with­out the ac­tive sup­port and par­tic­i­pa­tion of the workers.

Be prac­ti­cal. Fo­cus on what ir­ri­tates the boss and solve it with the ac­tive help of peo­ple. If you can get con­sis­tent small wins, it will be easy for your boss to ac­cept your em­ployee sug­ges­tion pro­gram. This can only hap­pen if you con­tinue to mo­ti­vate the workers and train them with ba­sic prob­lem-solv­ing tools to make it hap­pen. Three, en­sure that your sug­ges­tion pro­gram is in­ex­pen­sive. Man­age­ment will al­ways be think­ing of bud­gets and fi­nan­cial con­trols. You can’t ar­gue against that. There­fore, the best ap­proach is to make the pro­gram easy to im­ple­ment and with­out nec­es­sar­ily re­quir­ing a big bud­get. If ever, guar­an­teed RoI must be clear and eas­ily achieved in a short pe­riod of time.

In­stead of giv­ing ma­te­rial re­wards to peo­ple with ex­cel­lent ideas, make it an in­te­gral part of their key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors and the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s suc­ces­sion plan­ning and ca­reer de­vel­op­ment track. Many times, peo­ple are mo­ti­vated to con­trib­ute their ideas if the or­ga­ni­za­tion has a struc­ture and frame­work to make it hap­pen.

Four, cal­cu­late the ac­tual cost of op­er­a­tional is­sues. “If you can’t mea­sure it, you can’t man­age it” is a pop­u­lar cliché. You have to fig­ure out the cost of wait­ing cus­tomers, in­ven­tory of raw ma­te­ri­als, un­used ma­te­ri­als and ma­chines, among other things. If you can ac­cu­rately show the com­pany’s re­cur­ring losses to your boss, he would not hes­i­tate to agree on your pro­gram.

Re­view the com­pany’s qual­ity man­age­ment pol­icy, if there is one, and rec­on­cile it with your pro­posal. If there is none, it’s an op­por­tu­nity for you to cre­ate one. Un­der these cir­cum­stances, very few peo­ple, in­clud­ing your boss, are likely to re­ject your pro­gram if the ad­van­tages and ben­e­fits are clear for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Last, stand your ground if your boss re­jects your pro­posal. Be ready for any pos­si­ble ques­tions he can raise. De­fend your an­swers to prove your point. Go back to the ac­tual cost and how it could end up de­plet­ing or­ga­ni­za­tional re­sources. Who knows? Maybe your boss is try­ing to test your de­ter­mi­na­tion to pro­ceed with your pro­gram.

What­ever hap­pens, don’t give him an ex­cuse to blame you later on. If he re­jects your pro­posal, main­tain a pa­per trail demon­strat­ing how you did your best. Pro­tect your flanks. Email ex­changes or even mar­ginal notes on your docu- ments will prove that you did your best.

ELBONOMICS: Ef­fec­tive lis­ten­ing is un­der­stand­ing what’s not be­ing said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.