Without an effective Kaizen methodology in place, what normally happens when an employee has an idea?
“I send an email to my manager.”
“I write up a list of ideas and put it under the director’s door.”
What usually happens next?
“I never hear anything back” (that’s a big problem)
“My manager takes care of it for me” (that’s a problem too)
We can’t let employee ideas fall into a black hole (that’s a major problem with suggestion box systems, too).
The other thing that doesn’t work is letting employee ideas become a “to-do list” for the manager. Managers might think they are being “servant leaders,” but doing everything for your employees probably isn’t the best definition of servant leadership.
If you have 20 employees and they each give you an idea or suggestion… the manager, as the sole implementer, becomes quite the bottleneck! This isn’t the manager’s fault. They have limited time. They can only do so much. Plus, they don’t understand the employee’s situation as well as the employee does.
What needs to happen, instead, is for the manager to be a delegator, coach, and facilitator. When 20 employees have an idea, I’d bet that 18 of those can be investigated or tested by the employee (alone or with some of their peers). There are SOME cases when a manager NEEDS to help or to escalate an issue. But, a Kaizen system can’t breed or reinforce over dependence on the manager.
Managers need to trust their employees and let them take action… but also need to be there to help or give input as needed. You’re not leaving the employees alone on an island… and you’re not doing it all yourself.
That’s the balance we need to strike in an effective Kaizen system.
Come see how this works, first hand, by participating in our “Kaizen Live!” experience at Franciscan St. Francis Health in April, 2016.