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Articles: Blog2
  • Chris Alcock

Listen, act, respond

Just finished a telephone call with a potential client.

He has asked me to put together training in Lean for the blue collar shop floor management in a maintenance department.

Lean has been rolled out successfully in other areas of the company. However, this department is seen as a bit of a “silo”:

"Change is difficult, there are cultural challenges and the workforce is heavily unionised”.

It was described to me that whenever change to an existing activity is suggested or proposed, the common response has been

“We’ve done it like this for 30 years, why does it need to change now?”

As the potential client stated, communication is key.

I asked him what could be a difficult or uncomfortable question to answer:

Are the people who work in this maintenance department listened to by their management and other people within the company?

The answer was, No they weren’t, not until a couple of years ago.

Then new management came in and the whole atmosphere has changed.

And I asked an NLP modelling question, seeking to understand how this change was achieved:

What have been the key differences in management behaviour that have produced this change? The answer was surprisingly simple: management now listen much more to the workforce, they act on what is said and they respond to feedback. This is all done with much more transparency than before.

Listen, act, respond, with transparency and respect.
Listen, act, respond, with transparency and respect.

The new senior manager comes from a similar background to the people on the “shop floor” of the maintenance department. She is someone they respect and can relate to. This is more than likely because the new manager respects and makes great efforts to relate to the shop floor staff in the maintenance department.

Can Lean make a difference in this environment?

For example, can visualisation boards combined with daily team feedback sessions led by the shop floor supervisors help achieve and maintain the Lean gains, deepen engagement, interaction and integration of the different levels of workforce and leadership?

The answer comes from the above: Yes, and it needs a leadership style at all levels that first listens, then acts and responds, with transparency of communication and respect for the people who do the job. These values are, in my opinion, fundamental and totally necessary for success in implementing change and operational improvement in this kind of environment.

An opening of minds and a change of mindset needs to and will happen, once the above values are seen to be shared, and conversations happen where this is experienced by the workforce.

The words are the client’s, this all came from the client, it was my objective to help the client find these enablers for success:

Listen, act and respond with transparency and respect.

Contact me, Chris Alcock, to learn more about how to find your enablers for success.


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