Hiring, Promoting, and Firing for Transformation in Manufacturing

Manuficient - Hiring

What is the mix of attitudes toward change within your organization? Is your factory’s mix of attitudes optimized for transformation?

One of the most critical factors of a successful Continuous Improvement implementation is having the right people on the bus. When undergoing this type of change, the organization is going from a steady state to a transformative state of operation. To optimize the speed and strength of an implementation, it helps to have the right mix of personalities, talents, competencies, and attitudes in place. For instance, the greater manufacturing competency (such as experience with Lean, Six Sigma, or other), the easier the implementation. In regard to personalities, it helps to have a diverse team that can bring a variety of perspectives to the table. Also, talent brings magnitude to the direction that is set for the change. However, the predominant factor in the organization’s Agility is people’s attitudes toward change at the onset of the initiative. Organizational Agility is the speed at which it can effectively change and return to steady state. Granted, people can change and judgement needs to be applied as to how much a person can change and by when, the amount of time required for people to change adds time to the implementation. As you may have gathered at this point, a CI implementation needs to happen in the attitudes and behaviors of people, just as much as it happens with other manufacturing assets on the production floor. Depending on the specific current and future needs of your business, your approach to getting the right people on the bus will vary.

One of the most profound publications on people’s attitudes toward change is “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, MD. According to Spencer, there are four types of attitudes towards change which I’ll summarize below:

Sniff (or the Change Agent) identified change early. He kept things simple and adopted the change. He would represent those in the organization who advocate change for the others.

Scurry (The Supporting Agent) was eager and quick. He was flexible, aware and accepted the change that was taking place.

Haw (the Adapter) dealt with change in a different way. He was able to relinquish old behaviors and learn from past mistakes.

Hem (the Stabilizer) preferred to stay in his comfort zone and ignore the reality of the situation. He felt entitled and just trusted his needs would be met if he took the easiest path.

One of the keys to optimizing a CI implementation is finding or cultivating the right mix of attitudes. Based on personal experience, the typical organization at steady state might contain the following mix:

Change Agents (2%) | Supporting Agents (15%) | Adapters (50%) | Stabilizers (33%)

For a more effective Continuous Improvement implementation, a more appropriate model might look as follows (depending on the organization’s goals):

Change Agents (10%) | Supporting Agents (35%) | Adapters (40%) | Stabilizers (15%)

The point is to show a significant shift from people on the Stabilizer end of the spectrum toward the Change Agent end. This is especially true within the Leadership group of the organization. This may also require either helping people to change their attitudes or hiring/promoting/firing people to optimize the mix required to strengthen a transformation. Notice that even in a state of transformation, some population of Stabilizers is still required to support implementation. This is because Stabilizers are best suited for driving adherence to standards, which is critical for continuous improvement.

To effectively apply this model, an inventory of attitudes toward change should be taken to get a snapshot of the organization’s current state. An expert can help you determine the attitude mix required to achieve the desired future state. After the implementation has reached maturity, there should be a shift in attitudes away from Change Agents and toward Stabilizers in efforts to sustain desired changes. At any state of operation, there is an optimal mix which should be evaluated and decided upon based on the current and future needs of the business.

Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is Your Performance Review Process Contributing to Poor Manufacturing Performance?

Manuficient - Performance Review Process

One of the most dreaded processes in business is the annual performance review. Rather you sit in the giving or receiving seat of the review, its usually a pretty uncomfortable process regardless of how well or poorly the employee has performed. The problem lies in the fact that most organizations (and subsequently managers) have very poor methods for gauging an employee’s performance. The review is often skewed toward two factors 1) how the employee has made the manager feel since the manager has become more conscious about the upcoming review (usually a few weeks) and 2) how the manager’s circle of work friends feel about the employee. In other words, performance reviews are often driven more by internal politics than by actual performance. This only contributes to diminishing the overall organization’s effectiveness where actual results have less and less internal value over time.

There is often a clear a mis-alignment between what the customer pays for and what employees are evaluated on during the performance review process. Most companies are very good at measuring what the customer pays for. For example, just about every company has metrics in place to manage quality, cost, and service levels. Other metrics may be used to drive business initiatives such as a Lean or Continuous Improvement implementation. These metrics might get tossed around during management meetings throughout the year but too often don’t weigh in to an individual’s actual performance review. In a perfect world, each individual would be measured based on the amount of value they contributed to the customer and no more. An individual’s political prowess should be evident in that person’s ability to drive sustained quantifiable business results. And fortunately, with a little creativity, all business results are quantifiable to some extent.

The politics-based performance review process is the by-product of they way employees are compensated. Employees generally don’t have much control over how much money they make on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis. Employee compensation is basically fixed aside from overtime, bonuses, or annual pay increases. These long-interval compensation management tactics are designed to convenience accountants and not to leverage human psychology, which would call for immediate and real-time feedback (including compensation). Long-interval compensation management creates a comfort-seeking and risk-averse culture that is counter to what really drives business growth and high performance. An employee would be paid the same if they came in to work and created tremendous value as they would if they showed up, put up mediocre numbers, and just avoided any conflict. This environment makes it too easy to be a prosperous – at par – performer.

Contrarily, leading organizations have developed more systematic approaches to performance reviews that do a better job at quantifying the expected value contribution of each employee in the organization. Its proven that real-time feedback is the most effective method for managing people. Managers simply can’t provide real-time feedback at the level needed to develop world-class talent. The most effective performance review comes directly from the customer (or the understood measure of value for the customer). If you follow the links in the value chain through the factory, you realize that an employee’s manager is not their true customer, yet the manager is usually providing the performance review.  In an ideal state, employees would get frequent feedback automatically from the business system, which should be designed based on understood value for the customer. They would be able to quickly assess how much value they have created against the expected value created for the amount of time they have worked. In this type of system, it is impossible to hide poor performance or for someone to get credit for another person’s contributions. This works best when the supply chain is broken down to clearly defined suppliers and customers at each step in the process. Then value contribution and performance management can be set up in a pull system where each employee is measured in real-time using quantitative factors with input from their immediate downstream customer. This would replace the broken and wasteful push system where unfounded opinions, gross assumptions, and biased perceptions are used to gauge a person’s performance. The next step is to evolve to a real-time compensation model that matches value creation on short intervals, which will be covered in greater detail in a future blog post. This significantly reduces the need for artificial motivation and performance management tactics that are typically used in modern business. A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help develop data-driven performance evaluation systems to put your organization on the path to World-Class performance.

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Copyright © Calvin L Williams blog at calvinlwilliams.com [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Calvin L Williams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.