Tag Archives: Human Resources

Everything is a Change Management Problem

ChangeManagement

Back to Marketing Class

In a recent marketing class, we discussed a case of a startup company segmenting its customers. The startup had two primary customer types that were beginning to require different solutions. The company had to decide which segment to focus on and which one to let go.

Running through the numbers, we came to a clear conclusion that customer segment A would be more profitable with the largest growth potential. The class wrapped up, and we all felt good about successfully using our marketing tools. Marketing lesson accomplished.

After class, I asked the teacher what actually happened to the company. She replied that even though segment A was more profitable, the company went after segment B. The founders and investors all felt better about Segment B, so they decided to take the riskier option and drop A.

I joked to the professor, “Oh, so it really wasn’t a marketing case – it was an organizational behavior and change management case.”

With a smile, she quickly responded, “Every case is a change management case.”

Everything is a Change Management Problem

My teacher’s response has stuck with me. On one hand, it seems so obvious and something I already knew. On the other, it seems like a deep insight – words a wise, gray-haired sage would whisper from the shadows. Everything we try to do within our own team, across the company, or personally depends on changing current behavior. The hardest goals of all require us to change ourselves so that we can then change others.

Change Management in Supply Chain

When skilled change management leaders enter supply chain and operations, companies tend to do quite well. Toyota, for example, rose to prominence through its culture of embracing constant change toward improvement. The Toyota Production System (TPS) is a systematic way to enact change on a recurring basis. Just as McDonald’s realized in the 1950s that their main product is a franchises rather than food, Toyota realized its product isn’t just cars but an improvement system.

As I’ve tried to make changes, I’ve looked to Toyota as an example. The temptation I’ve faced is to take Toyota’s tools and copy their processes completely. When changes weren’t implemented as quickly as I’d like (or not at all), I would get frustrated and wonder if Toyota’s tools really held the answer.

Eventually, I realized they don’t.

Toyota’s problem-solving tools work at Toyota because of its culture of embracing changes TPS suggests. Those tools are great if you’re in that type of environment, but most companies’ cultures are very different.

In fact, the actual tools, numbers, or improvements often become much less important than how you manage the proposed change.

The best ideas, implemented poorly, will always lose to decent ideas implemented well.

How to Change

So how do you effectively lead change? The right answer varies by situation and personal style. Here’s five suggestions to help you find what works for you.

(1) Remember the Primary Issue is Always Managing Change

No matter what type of problem you think you’re trying to solve, there is always a bigger question of “what will I do to get to enact this idea.” Figuring out the right segment to target is one thing, convincing the company that it’s the right thing to do is the real issue.

(2) Spend a Ton of Time Getting Buy-in

I’m an ‘act now, fix it later’ kind of guy. I’m constantly running experiments to improve processes. When I see an improvement, I jump on it and move forward. Why waste time with a less-efficient process? This is often a common mentality within groups of operationally minded people. It’s a skill that helps reduce costs and improve efficiency. But this can also be a weakness when working with others.

Change management often requires a much different approach. People take a lot of time to prepare of major changes. Communicating all the knowledge you’ve gained to the rest of your organization on why the change needs to happen is very challenging. Resistors, supporters, and bystanders emerge, and it takes a lot of work to convince others to change their behavior.

A common thread throughout change management literature is the time it takes to get buy-in. Getting buy-in from your own team of five may take a five-minute conversation, but an organization of just fifty people can take five months of meetings. Bigger companies can take five years. Investing in buy-in upfront can be a frustratingly slow change of pace, but it’s the best way to enact significant changes in larger organizations.

(3) Give Others Credit

If you really care about the change, don’t care about who gets credit. Make others look good, especially superiors, and you have a better chance of your mission moving forward. Even if you’re name is never mentioned, most people will recognize your role if you repeatedly bring others success.

(4) Show Leadership by Following

My favorite TED talk is only three minutes long, and it’s called How to Start a Movement. It shows how a lone dancer at a concert creates a movement to get everyone at the concert dancing. With that dancing movement happening in the background, Derek Sivers explains the characteristics the video exemplifies of how to make change happen.

It’s a fantastic video – take three minutes watch it here: TED Talk – Derek Sivers, How to Start a Movement

My favorite insight from the video is, “The first follower turns a lone nut into a leader.” There’s lots of people trying to enact changes. By becoming their first follower, you can make those changes happen. You can pick which “lone nut” to follow and pick which change succeeds.

(5) Read Switch

Finally, read my favorite business book:

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

This book is simply fantastic in every way. It’s entertaining, easy to read, and the advice applies to changes of all types. Whether you want to change your personal diet, change how we address world hunger, or change your company’s procurement policies, Switch has real-life advice you can use right after you read each chapter. I can’t recommend this book enough.

If you’ve already read Switch, Decisive is an excellent follow-up about how to make better decisions.

 

As you tackle your problems this week, choosing between A and B, remember that the biggest issue is how you manage that change.

How Yelling at Your Employees Brings Better Results

How Yelling at Your Employees Brings Better ResultsLet’s pretend you manage Chuck. He’s a fairly good employee most of the time, but occasionally, he really messes up. Whenever this happens, you bring him into your office and yell at him for a bit. Chuck’s next assignment is much better. You’ve done your job as his manager. It’s not fun to yell at people, but someone has to do it.

Or do they?

Yes, it’s true – when Chuck does an unusually bad job, and you yell at him, his performance will almost always improve. What’s equally true, however, is that Chuck’s improvement has very little to do with your shouting. Instead, it has everything to do with random variation and statistics.

Being in supply chain and operations, I have a healthy respect for statistics. Much of the Toyota Production Systems (TPS), lean, Six Sigma, and quality improvement tools are a direct result of applying statistics and the scientific method to production. However, what I haven’t thought of much before is how those same principles of random variation apply to office coworkers just as much as to assembly lines.

What started me thinking about this was a great book I just finished called The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow. In it, he tells the story of Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2002. Mlodinow writes:

In the mid-1960s, Kahneman, then a junior psychology professor at Hebrew University, agreed to perform a rather unexciting chore: lecturing a group of Israeli air force flight instructors on the conventional wisdom of behavior modification and its application to the psychology of flight training. Kahneman drove home the point that rewarding positive behavior works but punishing mistakes does not. One of his students interrupted, voicing an opinion that would lead Kahneman to an epiphany and guide his research for decades.

“I’ve often praised people warmly for beautifully executed maneuvers, and the next time they always do worse,” the flight instructor said. “And I’ve screamed at people for badly executed maneuvers, and by and large the next time they improve. Don’t tell me that reward works and punishment doesn’t work. My experience contradicts it.”

What Kahneman realized, however, is that while the yelling preceded improvement, it did not cause the improvement.

The pilots in training were all slowly improving, but you wouldn’t be able to see that improvement from one maneuver to the next. Instead, their performance was a random variation around an average skill level that was rising over months. When one maneuver was unusually bad, it was just random variation. The same held true for the exceptionally good performances – random variation around the true average skill of the training pilots.

The name of this statistical principle is regressions toward the mean. Whenever an observed results is far from the average, the next result will likely be much closer toward the average. Observations tend to gather around the average in a bell shaped curve.

This principle is widely used in production quality. We calculate upper and lower control limits on a process and expect random variation to occur. It’s only after several repeated outlying events that we intervene and investigate. If processes are within their limits, we just leave them alone. Even if several measurements are below average, we have faith that the next measurements will be higher.

Process Control Chart

Realizing that this principle holds true with humans as well is powerful. All of us will have random good and bad performances simply as a result of random variation. The majority of our performance will regress toward our true average skill level without any outside influence.

So next time Chuck has an outlying bad performance, you could yell at him, and he’ll do better the next time.

You could also watch online cat videos together – the improvement will still occur.

Why not save your lungs some stress?

 

[Image Source]

7 Simple Ways to Manage Temporary Workers Better

Temporary WorkersWhether it’s a seasonal jump in orders or an unexpectedly large rework project, calling on temporary workers is often the only way to get everything done on time. I refer to temporary employees as one of my three supply chain silver bullets that help me pull off operational miracles. Having managed dozens of projects with workers I just met, I’ve gathered a list of seven ways to make those projects run smoother and quicker. By incorporating the concepts below, your next project with temporary workers will be a better experience for everyone involved.

1.     Start Right with a Clear Orientation Huddle

The first twenty minutes together with your new team sets the tone for the entire day. Use this opportunity to set clear expectations and preempt later distractions and problems by answering common questions.

When temporary workers first arrive, I have them read over a laminated, double-sided sheet. Not only does this protect our company by letting them know of HR policies, but also addresses common issues and questions. The sheet contains a two- or three-sentence summary of our policies on the following topics:

  • About Our Company
  • General Warehouse Safety
  • Forklift Safety
  • Dress Code
  • Time Clock Procedures
  • Breaks and Lunches
  • Bathrooms, Break Area, and Smoking Area
  • Cell Phones and Personal Items (be sure to address cell phones specifically)
  • Substance Abuse Policy (from HR)
  • Harassment Policy (from HR)

After reading over the list, each temporary worker signs an acknowledgement sheet that we keep on file. This protects the company and gives us recourse to send people home that break policies.

After gathering everyone’s signed acknowledgement, I hold a brief huddle. Before going into the days’ work, I emphasize a few key expectations. Specifically, I show them the lockers they can put personal items (or when lacking lockers, ask them to keep everything in their cars). I also point out work and break areas as well as recommend local places for lunch. These few minutes answer 90% of the common questions I encounter, which allows us all to focus on the work at hand.

2.     Set Clear Expectations

Having given a clear orientation, I then strive to set very clear expectations of the day’s work. The key here is many visual examples of the end product and a clear standard procedure to reach that result. For example, if we are trying to build 3000 retail displays that day, then I have several completed examples to show everyone. Each station has a color picture of what the display should look like at that station’s point in the process. I build one or two displays completely with everyone watching to ensure they understand how the display look as it is built and completed.

As much as possible, I strive to make the work mistake-proof. Setting up checks to ensure the display is built correctly helps catch errors. If physical checks aren’t possible, then I ask several people to act as quality lookouts along the assembly line to catch any defects. I empower them with the ability to stop the process and call for help when they see errors. I also let everyone know I’ve asked them to do this job to avoid offense.

Finally, I share with the team hourly and daily production goals. This gives a score to the team’s work and helps them gauge their speed. When I’m building something new and have no experience on what to set the goal as, I just guess optimistically. The team usually rises to meet my estimated goal. Sometimes I even run the process myself ahead of time. This allows me to time how long it takes me to complete a few rounds of the process to set a realistic expectation.

3.     Add Meaning to the Work

Just before they get set to work, I answer the often-unasked question of “why am I doing this?” Even though these workers may just be on the job for a day, I’ve seen impressive results when they know the deeper reason behind their work. My goal becomes theirs as well, and many of the workers will give extra effort and suggestions to better accomplish the larger goal.

The explanation doesn’t need to be long. It could go something like this: “Today we’re building 3000 displays that we’re sending to Walmart. They have to be built this specific way because it helps the Walmart employees quickly put the product out in the store. In a couple weeks, you can visit your local Walmart and find one of the displays you built. Then you can point to that display and tell your friends or children ‘I helped make that.'” As your team is able to focus on the higher goal, not just the menial work that lies ahead, they will rally behind the cause and work hard to produce something they are proud of. Five minutes before lunch or the end of the day, I gather everyone around and solicit their feedback for improvements to the process. Without your team knowing the end goal of their work, helpful feedback is rare.

4.     Create a Positive Work Environment

As the workers begin, I help set the pace and atmosphere by working alongside them. This helps me make sure the project gets off to a good start, but it also helps me learn more about my team. I rotate people to find their strengths and adjust workloads to balance bottlenecks. Once everyone is comfortable in his or her role, I try to ensure enthusiasm remains long after the first hour of work.

If everyone can do a great job while talking together, then those conversations often keep everyone upbeat. However, if they become distracted while talking, then I instead turn on the radio. I always see better results when I try to have a little fun with my team, especially toward the end of the day, than when I am overly strict and serious. Simple rewards for meeting goals, such as cheap popsicles if it’s a hot day, or letting the team take five minutes longer on their break, go a long way toward motivation.

5.     Don’t Make Leadership a Mystery

The biggest problems I’ve had with temporary workers come from not assigning adequate supervision. I am frequently called away from the work, and when I don’t assign someone to be in charge, disagreements often arise. Therefore, if I can’t be there to supervise, I do everything I can to have one of my full-time employees, or at the very least a returning worker, assigned to answer questions that arise. This isn’t to quell power struggles, but to create order in a group of workers who still don’t know each other. Knowing there is a supervisor close who can answer question creates order and prevents most problems.

Having someone you know and trust working on the project also fosters more communication. That person can act as a liaison to the shyer, new employees by giving voice to concerns or suggestions they have. I’ve received some great suggestions for improvement that passed from a new worker, through a returning worker, to me.

6.     Be Detailed in Time Management

Simple Excel Punch Clock

Being exact in timing brings great results. I once used a clipboard to have temporary workers track their time each day. This created some tension because some people would write 8:00, even though they really showed up at 8:07. To avoid this problem, I put together a simple punch clock in Excel – which you can download from the Supply Chain Resources page. Having the computer track the time took away any question of timing – and saved our company a few hundred dollars.

Another time trick I love is something I learned from my high school band director. Whenever we had a concert, she would ask us all to report at 6:53 PM. Such a detailed time was memorable, and many more people showed up on time than had she said 7:00 PM. I use this same concept with breaks. If its 2:03, then I tell everyone, “Ok, it’s break time, we will start the line back up at 2:14 – so be back by 2:13.” This brings much more success than “Be back in 10 minutes.”

7.     Build Your “A” Team

Finally, do all you can to build your temporary worker dream team. If your project spans over many days, only invite back the hard workers – and ask the temp agency to send you others to try out.

If someone is not working, hindering the work, or fostering a negative work environment, don’t be afraid to send him or her home. I’ve only had to do this on rare occasions because talking to the person often resolves the issues. However, if someone is causing a safety risk or HR issue, send that person home as soon as you can. Failure to do so not only invites the issue to grow, and other workers may mirror that behavior since it’s bringing no consequence.

For the most part, however, your team will likely be full of good, hard workers. Pay attention to the best and consider bringing them on full-time. We have found some of our very best employees through temporary assignments. It’s our vehicle of choice to add a new team member in our warehouse because we can try them out for an extended period before investing completely in them.

These seven simple tips have helped me better manage the projects I’ve run with temporary workers. Investing some time and effort into the process will result in more efficient workers and better results. These projects, although sometimes stressful, can become positive experiences for everyone involved.

What other suggestions do you have for managing temporary workers? Please leave your thoughts in a comment.

Unite and Align Your Team with a Morning Huddle

Feeling Out of Touch with My Team

Some time ago, I felt out of touch with my coworkers and team at work. We were all busy with our individual projects, but there wasn’t enough unity or coordination. When large projects loomed over me, I would bear down and go days without knowing what other team members were working on. When I finally found out about others’ initiatives, I realized that I could have saved hours of work by passing on a small piece of information I hadn’t thought to share. In an effort to unify the team, we had tried various coordination meetings but hadn’t yet found an effective solution we could stick to. Taking a cue from the morning meetings I’d seen while touring O.C. Tanner, I began a morning huddle meeting. This meeting has become a significant contributor to my team’s increased unity, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Daily 3+2 Priorities

The Agenda

Promptly each morning at 8:45 AM, everyone gathers around a TV displaying our real-time dashboards and key performance indicators (KPIs). We all stand, so as to encourage a quick meeting (our goal is under 15 minutes). The agenda follows a format of (1) measure, (2) align, and (3) celebrate:

  1. Measure – The meeting leader begins by reviewing KPIs and dashboards with the group. If necessary, he or she assigns follow-up responsibility for problems. For example, if a dashboard shows that an order is late, then the warehouse manager will be assigned to follow up on the order and report back on the issue later that day.
  2. Align – After the KPI action items are made, we move on to accountability and alignment. Each person reports on their previous day’s priorities and then briefly explains their priorities for today. If anyone has a priority that they worry might not get accomplished, they request help from the team. The system we use is a 3+2 priority list. The full details of the system are in this Lifehacker article, but it’s essentially a realistic approach to a day’s work. Most people can usually accomplish three larger projects and two smaller tasks – a total of five priorities. Successfully using this system takes some work at breaking down large projects into achievable steps. To help facilitate this approach, we handed out laminated cards. Using a dry erase marker, each team member writes out that day’s information and brings his or her card to the meeting. On the next day, we flip them over and use the other side so we always have yesterday’s and today’s priorities written down.
  3. Celebrate – To conclude the meeting, each person shares a success or win from the previous day. The wins can either be their own personal accomplishments, others’ wins, or appreciation for a team member. This practice helps the entire team stay positive and take time to recognize the progress we are all making. Additionally, as elaborated on in The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, beginning your day with a positive thought boosts your performance and effectiveness throughout the rest of the day. Some examples of wins we share include:
    • “Yesterday, we shipped out five full truckloads of product – a new one-day record.”
    • “Ryan caught an error on the new packaging, which saved us hours of rework down the road.”
    • “We received a large order from a new customer.”
    • “Amanda proofread 180 labels for new product. It was tedious, but she was patient and helped us avoid 5 errors that she found. Thank you.”
    • “We finished our mid-year inventory count with only a .1% variance – great job team!”
    • “We implemented a refined 5S system in our tool area yesterday. Thank you for helping me get that put together.”
    • “Jenny created a fantastic new process that we followed for the first time yesterday. It saved us so many headaches – everyone knew just what to do.”

The Results

Because of our quick morning huddles, my team and I all feel much more connected with each other. I know what each person is working on, and they know what I’m up against. We’ve been able to hold each other more accountable by reporting on our daily priorities. When my 3+2 list grows to a list of 7 or 8, others are sometimes able to step in and help. Otherwise, we prioritize what is most critical to accomplish that day and accept that some tasks will have to wait until later.

Perhaps my favorite part of the meeting is ending on a high note by sharing wins. Whether it’s the dread of looming projects and burning fires, or simply because it’s the middle of the week, sometimes the morning can be a less enthusiastic time of the workday. However, by celebrating the successes from the previous day, everyone gets a morning boost that proves to be much more effective than caffeine.

One additional benefit is that the morning huddle signals the start of the workday. Often, we socialize and share stories in the morning because we’re excited to see our coworkers again. This is an important benefit to my company’s culture, but sometimes it can drag on for a bit too long. I enjoy being able to socialize in the morning but also appreciate that the morning huddle signals the beginning of the work day. This helps the team unite and turn their focus to the challenges of the day.

How to Start

If you think your team could benefit from a morning huddle, here is some advice on how to start.

Build the Habit: “Same Bat-time, Same Bat-Channel”

The most important step is forming the habit with your team. It will take some discipline and willpower from you as the leader to help bring everyone together on time each morning. However, after a couple weeks, attendees will acquire the habit of showing up at the assigned spot on time and without reminders.

Once your team develops the habit, your consistency will ensure that the huddle continues for months to come. Failing to meet at the exact same time and place each day will soon result in attendees not showing up without your prodding. This isn’t resistance to the huddle – it’s confusion on when attendees should stop what they are working on and where they should gather. Avoid confusion and frustration by being disciplined and consistent.

Bring Prepared Information

Unless you have information beforehand, the morning huddle will drag on and waste others’ time. To maximize the huddle’s efficiency, ask each person to bring KPIs, priorities, or other relevant information prepared beforehand. I recommend a double-sided laminated sheet, or two separate sheets, that can carry both yesterday’s and today’s priorities. If you can put magnets on the laminated card so your team can post them on a board during the huddle for everyone to see, it can help maintain focus. After the meeting, I post my card right next to my computer for the rest of the day. When I catch myself working on other tasks that pop up, having my card right in front of me helps me refocus on what I committed to accomplish.

Scrum

As a final note for anyone starting a morning huddle, I would encourage reading up on the Scrum framework. Several months after beginning my team’s morning huddles, a coworker showed me the Wikipedia article about daily Scrum meetings. Although created for agile software development, many of the principles are the same as the morning huddle. It’s worth a quick review for some additional ideas on what may be good to incorporate based on your organization’s circumstances.

Final Thoughts

The morning huddle is also a great time to focus on safety guidelines, lean improvements, and other important initiatives. A one-minute thought prepared beforehand, if kept short, could help move these initiatives forward. Many companies, especially in Japan, encourage their workers to perform stretches before the day’s work, which helps them wake up and prepare for the day.  Most of all, make sure your morning huddle is tailored to your team and business, and do everything you can to make it short and effective.

Since implementing my team’s morning huddle many months ago, the CEO of our company has asked other departments to follow my team’s lead. Adapted for different groups, our company is trying to implement morning huddles across the entire organization as an effective way to promote accountability and productivity. So far, I’ve seen great results as we strive to be brief, unified, and positive.

What type of morning huddle does your team currently hold? What do you like and dislike about it? What other advice do you have to share? Please share your comments and thoughts below.

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A Great, Inexpensive Way to Recognize your Employees

I am fortunate enough to work with a large group of high-performers every day. Without the support of my team, coworkers, and vendors, our supply chain and operations would end quicker than a diet in a fudge shop. I thank people around me often, but sometimes I feel they deserve even more recognition than a quick “thank you.” However, with budgets being so tight, it’s difficult to give them anything of extrinsic worth. As I have tried to be creative in my methods of recognizing people in a way that will be meaningful to them, I have found a superb way of showing appreciation that only costs a dollar. Because of the significant intrinsic value in this method, it has quickly become one of my favorite HR tools.

Recognition for a Dollar

Fire Truck Award

Some time ago, a team I was on had worked tirelessly to successfully launch a new product line with a key customer. The day after the launch was complete, the brand manager, who was armed with a secret box, gathered the entire company together. From his box, he pulled out a fire truck that he had purchased at a dollar store and called up a team member to give it to her. He talked for a minute to all gathered about how this team member had stayed very late for several weeks to put out fires. He thanked her publically, and she kept the fire truck to proudly display on her desk.

Continuing with his secret box, the brand manager next pulled out a microphone. This was for the team member who was always voicing concern and helping come up with solutions. The manager also presented a hairbrush to the designer who had helped to make the product beautiful. Next was a game of jacks to the employee who was a “jack of all trades” and kept up with broad details.

The meeting was a hit; everyone felt appreciated and had a good laugh. Following this tradition, I’ve seen quite a variety of unique dollar store gifts of appreciation:

  • A thermometer – keeping cool under stressful situations
  • Bouncy balls – Always staying on the ball and steadily working on long tasks
  • An inflatable sword – “The Sword of Accuracy” for making sure orders are complete and correct when they ship
  • A bath toy boat – Helping keep orders shipping on time – and doing great at managing logistics
  • The Hulk Action Figure – Tirelessly wrapping pallet after pallet and doing much of the heavy lifting
  • Glow sticks – Keeping the team upbeat and making stressful work more fun
  • Magic wand – Ability to magically solve problems
  • Giant Dollar-sign Glasses – Catching small detail problems to help save money

Almost anything can creatively be turned into an award; you might even be able to just collect a few unneeded items from your home.

This method of recognition is effective because it’s memorable and fun for everyone involved, not just the people being recognized. The entertaining prizes keep everyone engaged (imagine how much better the Academy Awards acceptance speeches would be if the awards were something fun like oversized novelty hats the recipient had to wear). After the fun recognition meeting, each team member wants to see the others’ toys and hear again the special importance attached to them. Making them funny, but also putting serious thought and appreciation behind the awards will give them meaning. Recipients will be sure to tell their family about the fun award, and they’ll likely hold onto it for some time.

The best way to carry out this method of recognition is to go to a dollar store and wander the toy section until creativity strikes you. When examining a specific product, think “what could this represent?” or “what funny play on words could I make with this?” Have fun and stretch the meaning as far as you need to – the words you’ll say mean much more than the object you’ll give.

Be sure to make a detailed list of who the award is for, the meaning behind the award, and several specific examples of what that individual has been doing for the company. Without a list, I usually stumble and forget the details behind the award during the presentation. It’s embarrassing to be holding a Frisbee and completely forget the meaning behind it.

A Couple Disclaimers

Appreciation at work is extremely important to employee retention and motivation. However, this should not be a substitute for fair wages and increases when appropriate. Additionally, do not overuse this method – using it every week would quickly diminish its novelty and usefulness.

Other Effective Methods

Here’s a Dollar

The school my wife works at uses dollars in a different way to recognize outstanding teachers and staff. At each faculty meeting, the principal has five $1 bills at the front of the room. At a specific point in the meeting, anyone in the meeting can go up, take a dollar, and then give it to someone and explain to everyone what that person did to deserve recognition. This is a great way to encourage recognition that has the additional benefit of having team members recognize each other instead of relying only on recognition from supervisors (who may not see all of the great things that an employee is doing.)

Call for Appreciation

Another effective method of recognition is something I saw when visiting O.C. Tanner. Every morning, teams meet for a morning stand-up huddle. After reviewing key metrics and the day’s priorities, the meeting leader calls for appreciation. Anyone who has noticed someone doing something good steps to the center and compliments the person. If the person isn’t there, his or her manager makes note, and both the person offering the compliment and the manager make sure to recognize the person that day.

Smokey the Bear

Smokey Bear Vintage Tin Sign from Amazon

Emergencies and fires plague a lot of companies. Employees who prevent fires are often unnoticed despite the great good they play in the company. To encourage fire prevention, I know a company that bought Smokey the Bear memorabilia as awards. These items, such as a vintage “Only You” sign or a Smokey Bear Coin, became coveted trophies that helped recognize and encourage fire prevention. Suddenly the heroes of the company aren’t just those who solve problems, but those who avoid them before they break out.

Final Thoughts

No matter what you do, take some time to recognize your team. Systems and processes are great, but it’s the people that make companies work. When the work day is over, 90% of your company’s assets walk out the door. Appreciation, whether with the fun dollar-store method or some other way, goes far in keeping your team happy and the supply chain running.

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