Lean is Not Just a Lean Manager’s Job

leadership and teamwork conceptIf you are a lean manager, or you recently hired someone to the position of lean manager it is important to understand that while this individual is responsible for the coordination and implementation of the Lean strategies used in your facility, they are not the only ones who must contribute to the success of these processes.  Whether it is a factory, an office or some other facility everyone who works in the area must be involved in the lean process for it to be truly effective.

One of the problems most facilities have with implementing lean strategies in their facilities is that they only get support from the lean manager and possibly upper management who see it strictly as a cost savings program.  The lean concept is intended to help everyone in the facility from the front line worker to the CEO of the business, and when you offer proper training and get full buy-in from all parties this goal can be realized.

Lean Training

There are many training programs available which are tailored specifically to different areas of a facility.  The lean manager should work to find which types of training needs people in the facility have and provide this training to them.  People working on the front line, for example, should receive training that shows them how the lean process will help to ensure the right tools, parts and equipment will be where they are needed at the time when they are needed.  It can also show how it will improve the safety and efficiency of their jobs so they can improve their job satisfaction.

When a lean manager is providing training to middle management, on the other hand, it is best to explain the full lean concept so they can help work to implement these strategies with their employees as well as help promote the idea with their management teams due to the efficiency increases and cost savings.

Ongoing Improvements

One of the most important aspects of the lean strategies is that the improvement process is never completed.  Everyone from the lean manager to the CEO and down to the newest employee should be told that part of their job is to look for improvement opportunities for their position and any other area of the facility.  When embraced by everyone the lean process will have ongoing improvement opportunities for everyone in the area.  This is a great way to not only help cut costs and improve efficiency, but also improve the job satisfaction of the employees.

With everyone contributing to the success of the facility it is possible to help foster an environment where everyone feels appreciated and wants to give their best work.  This is not something that can be done exclusively by one lean manager, but must be encouraged by employees at every level. The lean concepts work best when everyone is involved and takes responsibility for their actions and the general improvement of the entire facility.  If you don’t have everyone on board your lean strategies will not be nearly as effective as they could be.

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Antonio Ferraro

On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, I strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. My knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. I believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier workplace. Connect with Antonio on Google+