Driving Employee Engagement
Imagine if everyone on your team or everyone in your company was not only doing their job every day, but also looking to improve the way the company functions. That's my vision of an engaged workforce! Wise CEOs, HR Executives and Managers are always looking for ways to get their teams engaged. Engagement boosts productivity, morale and retention. But how do you do it?
I have found that maximizing your Operational Excellence (OpEx) practices – continuous improvement of the processes that drive customer value - is an excellent way to drive employee engagement. Ask yourself the following question to see if you are on the leading edge of engaging your employees in improving your value chain.
Do all employees and stakeholders participate in process improvement? For example:
You — As owner or manager, your leadership by example is essential to this process. Your involvement in the continuous improvement process does not have to be as part of an improvement team. However, every improvement team should have an opportunity to report their progress and methodology directly to you. If you have multiple improvement teams active simultaneously, a good way to do this is to hold a monthly project review session where each team gets to present their progress, status and methodology.
Senior management — They must buy into the goal of creating excellence and maintaining continuous improvement. Your employees must know that their senior management is engaged and depending on the teams’ results to drive the numbers. The senior management could lead or participate in teams, but usually the best role for senior managers is as project champions. They should be accountable to the owner or CEO for the project results and serve as a resource for the team to remove roadblocks.
Hourly workers — They should feel needed and valued for both day-to-day productivity and long-term excellence to occur. The best OpEx deployments eventually get all employees on a continuous improvement team. Many times, this will be their natural work team or a cross-functional team centered around a key process (e.g. Order to Delivery).
OpEx experts and mentors — They can be invaluable in creating understanding and buy-in. This is the most overlooked element of a successful OpEx program. The basics of continuous improvement methodology are not complicated but they are also not intuitive. Employees need the support and leadership of someone skilled and experienced in the philosophy and methodology. If you have someone in your organization who has the credentials, appoint them to do this full time. Otherwise, look outside your organization for support.
Suppliers – Suppliers should be challenged to continually improve the value of their goods and services and when appropriate, participate in your teams.
Finally, is there a regularly scheduled time for process improvement activities? Each team should have regular meeting times set aside apart from their other responsibilities. I recommend one hour team meetings early each week with a 10-minute check-in later each week to ensure action items are proceeding as planned.
Once your teams start to take control of the processes they use every day, they start thinking like owners – and owners stay engaged!
About the Author
David Powe is the partner and lead consultant at AIOPX Management Consulting. AIOPX helps businesses increase profits, cash flow and enterprise value through the application of Operations Excellence methodologies. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-704-6241.