Respecting Your Team by Micromanaging your Processes

How do managers in lean service organizations manage the process and teach, so that team members can be successful?

When we view management as a system to control people, then looking closely at what we do feels like too much control. When we conceive of management as teaching, then it is unimaginable that a manager would stay at arm’s length, only paying attention to team members when they are not making the numbers.

So how do managers in lean service organizations manage the process and teach, so that team members can be successful?

  • They don’t rely on managing exclusively by using metrics produced somewhere else in the company.
  • They know enough to have a clear picture of what should be happening to satisfy customers and have a clearly defined process that is shared with their team members.
  • They regularly spend time in gemba (the place where the value-added work is being completed for customers) understanding how team members complete and process work compared to the defined process and the targets the whole team is working to meet.
  • When observing team members doing actual work processes, they identify and work with team members to help solve the inevitable problems that occur in all processes and provide in the moment coaching to develop team members’ problem identification and solving skills.
  • As a result of deep understanding of the process by which work is completed and constant monitoring of daily workload and workflow, they make capacity adjustments as necessary so that team members are not overwhelmed and overburdened, and so that individual and team targets and goals are consistently met.
  • And, perhaps most importantly, the team has clear targets for improvement, or what Mike Rother in Toyota Kata calls “target conditions” or “process patterns” they are striving for. Visible to the whole team every day or even every hour is how they are doing compared to the target so that the team is creatively working to overcome obstacles to achieving the target condition.

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IndustryWeek is an NED companion site within Penton’s Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

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