If you are a manager interested to boost efficiency, it’s important for you to build an environment where there is a flow to work processes. There are three main areas that you’ll need to think about.
Build Environments That Support Consistency
Build an environment where a process can happen consistently, and people can get through work and feel a sense of job satisfaction. Standardised work, even in environments with variable product specifications, will help provide consistency. Good planning and scheduling also support consistency. Remove non value adding steps where possible to reduce frustration, and improve flow. People are more satisfied when they know how to do their jobs, when their work adds value and its organised such that they can hit achievable targets. People working steadily, consistently and without error will beat reactive and disorganised fast workers every time, hands down, because of the non value adding work being put into waste in the process.
Train Workers To Be Autonomous
You’ll want to empower and develop supervisory staff. To do this, you’ll need to develop your people. They need to feel like they have autonomy. They will need clear goals and KPIs that they can follow. Leadership, as with any employee group, need time out and training to improve their skills. Setting up for consistency, as above, is a first step for empowered supervisory staff. This is your goal and focus as a supervisor. Once consistency is in place, people will be able to do more work without asking for help. At this point a supervisor’s time can shift to a much greater focus on continuous improvement, to help teams take their standards to another level. In best practice organisations, front line management spend half their time conducting continuous improvement, and half ensuring their teams are sticking to the plan.
Build Lines of Production
This might sound like something that only belongs to manufacturing, but it applies to all types of work environments. It doesn’t have to be a physical production line. Building lines of production is more to do with building processes which motivate people. Processes that are systematic and clear are important for people’s motivation. Systematic processes are also able to be measured. What gets measured gets done. Teams that can strive for targets are more likely to be motivated and work together. As a leader, you need to be a person who drives continuous improvement in systematic processes, innovation, and encourages a culture where problems are solved by finding the root cause of those problems.
If you make flow, develop people and drive goals, people will follow you anywhere.