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Getting employees to play

There was an interesting section in one of the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) magazines the other week – talking about improving employee engagement. This is one of the most discussed topics I come across when working with companies who need to get their teams onboard to make a change happen. They listed four points. Employees are engaged by: 1 – Leaders who inspire confidence in the future. 2 – Managers who respect and appreciate their employees. 3 – Exciting work that employees know how to do. 4 – Employers who display a genuine responsibility to employees and communities. An interesting check list I think you’ll agree. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Re-visiting PDCA

In any organisation we are faced with the ongoing need to deliver change. Improving the way we operate and deliver our services is expected from all concerned – our superiors, our customers and our owners. Many times the change doesn't work as planned. Things go wrong, we get delayed and people don't do what we expect. Smart companies understand this and use a form of constant correction and reinforcement to manage their changes. The tool that is most common is the PDCA approach (Plan, Do, Check, Act). This makes us ask the questions – 'have I gotten the result?' and 'how close was I?' The difficulty with this simple approach is that most people don't do it on a consistent basis. There are several ways to bring this kind of management into the work we do. The most straightforward would be to build the review steps into your project plans, use scheduling software to remind you to ask the questions, or to use the opportunity of 'failure' to be a

Lost disciplines

From time to time – if we look back at what we are doing – we may see that disciplines have slipped. From the team meeting to the sales order process the need for discipline is necessary, but how do we regain it in a simple way? Talking with our teams to ‘redesign’ the activity is probably one of the easiest ways to bring discipline back into the fold. The pure awareness of what the purpose is can get the discipline back in place. Speaking with influential individuals about the activity and asking what they can do to help is another simple way to get things back on track. This method is more discreet and possibly could take less time to organise. There are many ways to regain discipline, but few reasons to be disciplined.  Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Team members missing deadlines

Do you ever have those moments on projects when you see that some team members don't hit the deadlines for projects? In my observations this is mainly when the people offending have 'day jobs' as well as their project roles. The type of deadline missing that I am talking about is when not enough understanding is present - so inaction takes place. The missing of the deadline is not down to a lack of time, but a lack of understanding about what needs to happen. One way to improve this situation is to get the team member to affirm the request back to you when you have just given the instruction. Their grasp of what is required and your requirements should either be really clear, or fuzzy and difficult for the team member to articulate. If it is the latter then this is the ideal chance to clarify what is needed and then to develop a methodology together. So many projects get delayed and drawn out because people don't quite understand what they need to do. Help

Finding the catalysts

When a project is running into difficulties there is an opportunity to look for the obstacles that are present. This might seem a really obvious comment to make, but many times the speed of the project, or the urgency of the situation appear to force us into an autopilot mode. The idea of removing obstacles might remind you of secondary school chemistry when the topic of catalysts was discussed. Those substances that help to reduce the amount of energy needed for a reaction to occur. They reduce the effort – isn’t this what is needed when a project runs into difficulty? What are the problems on your project? What are the issues that once removed (or resolved) could let you get on with doing what needs to be done? This might not affect all of your current work, but at least worth keeping in your back pocket for when problems do arise. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Look at the linkages

Many times it is easy to focus on the work that is being carried out. When we are being pushed for an improvement to a specific process in the business it is only natural to look at the points in the business where recognised work is taking place. Between all of the process steps are linkages. These linkages can often make the difference between a really effective business and one that just about gets the job done. Linkages can take on many forms. The handover meetings, the project initiation checklist, the sign off process or an in-tray. All of these items bridge the processes that we consider to be the important parts of the business. Delays, mistakes or absence during these linkages can have big consequences for the business and should not be underestimated. Look at the linkages between the processes in your business and see if they could work better. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Improvement as a conversation

Very often businesses see improvement projects as one off exercises. This would seem logical as the name project infers this. The reality is that most people who are involved with projects of this type are being convinced / negotiated with in order for the change to go through. By taking a different approach with improvement and making it an ongoing conversation there is a whole richness of information and support that appears.Many people don't understand the requirements of the change, or what to do with the new way of doing things. By working together through the medium of conversation (relevant conversation about the improvement) the aha moment can appear a lot quicker. If there is no ongoing dialogue the aha moment may never appear of course! Improvement is a process, and whilst there will be discrete stand alone projects the people who will be doing the work will quite likely last longer than the project. By having this ongoing conversation the quality of the change, the speed