Ask a manager to nominate the greatest asset in their business and they’re most likely to say, their staff.
If this is the case then, shouldn’t we invest more time in maintaining our key relationships with the most important people in our lives?
When we put people together and give them a task which requires them to cooperate and collaborate, something predictable happens. The communication (interactions) between each other becomes patterned and a leadership structure develops.
One person tends to assume a leadership role with a focus on achieving a task, such as goal and role setting, directing, assigning, summarising and offering ideas, suggestions and orders. (Task Actions)
Another person will assume the social/emotional role that focuses on ensuring healthy, collaborative and supportive relationships while the group completes the tasks; such as alleviating frustration, relieving tensions (laughing/having fun), solving interpersonal problems and mediation. (Maintenance Actions)
An effective leader will always pay attention to both actions because getting the balance right will result in an enjoyable, effective and efficient team.
Aligning the Agendas
As managers or leaders, we have an agenda which is often reflected by the outcomes we want and need our teams to achieve; net profit, market share, GP targets and the list goes on.
To successfully achieve our business goals, our agenda is made easier if the objectives are aligned to our staffs’ agenda. If management and staff are all on the same page, then managers spend less time in the task action space; telling, directing, overseeing, correcting, advising etc.
So, what is the agenda of your staff? What are their ‘pain points?’ What do they want their managers to stop and start doing that would make their jobs more enjoyable and productive?
Listening to understand - not to agree or disagree - and then not suggesting, or advising or directing, or solving is a key maintenance action.
Have a Bakery Maintenance Chat
Back to your business’s greatest asset, competent and committed staff. How often do we check-in on them and maintain our most important assets? I’m not talking about conducting a formal performance review, I’m suggesting an informal relationship maintenance check-in over a coffee.
Recently we asked 6 department managers to meet with each of their department staff over a coffee. Yes, you’re right, this was us being task orientated. Well spotted.
We also gave the department managers a Maintenance Chat template to follow and complete. Their enthusiasm for the task was at best, tepid.
At the end of the month the department managers met to debrief from the maintenance chats and talked about their newly acquired caffeine addiction.
The results? Here are some of their verbatim comments.
“We dealt with a few issues that we’d been dodging for a fair while. It (the chat) was a relief for both of us.”
“Found out more about my crew than I thought I would.”
“Discovered that one of the blokes wasn’t pulling his weight and that this was pissing off all the others.”
“It surprised me that they wanted me to put more formal structures in place, like meetings and they even suggested some agenda items. One agenda item was a rippa ‘what I’m struggling with is…’ We put this in the meeting agenda and we’re now supporting each other a lot more.”
“They wanted more feedback on how the business was performing and if we needed to improve in any areas”
“I didn’t like some of their feedback. All four of them told me some things that I was doing that really annoyed them.”
They aligned agendas
Often when we talk to staff, work colleagues, partners, bosses we can be very task orientated, especially in busy work environments.
The department managers found out that their staffs’ agendas were similar to theirs; that they wanted to feel valued, their opinion counted and that their efforts were appreciated.
Praising, showing appreciation, saying thank you, noticing when someone is struggling and offering support and listening and not jumping straight to problem solving are all maintenance actions.
Who are the key people in your life and when was the last time you gave them a really good listening to? You could also ask them for their agenda for you.
If you would like a copy of the Bakery Maintenance Chat template give me a call or send me an email.
Don’t eat to many croissants when you’re at the bakery!
And remember that a little maintenance goes a long way.
Rework: is redoing, correcting or completing extra additional tasks generated due to work that was not done correctly the first time.
Working in a crowded market, with constant and increasing downward pressure on margins we can’t afford to be inefficient.
So how efficient is your team? How many hours do you and your team waste each week doing rework? Ever delivered the wrong product or quantity of product to the right address?
In the typical business, managers and staff each complete around an hour of rework each day. Let’s do the math.
10 staff X 5 hours of rework per day = 50 hours per week.
50 hours of rework X $100.00 per hour = $5,000.00 per week or $250,000.00 per annum.
Why do we value rework @ $100.00 per hour? If we pay staff $25.00 per hour, then with on-costs superannuation, sick leave, holidays etc. the actual hourly figure is closer to $40.00 per hour. Then we double this figure due to the opportunity cost; while they are completing rework, they are not doing other tasks. The $100.00 is just the cost of labour, it doesn’t include equipment, material costs or the cost of stock loss/damage.
But there is not just a financial imperative to reduce rework, there is also a health and safety imperative too. There is a positive correlation with levels of rework and safety. (Production Planning & Control. Volume 29, 2018)
Now, if you lost 250k of stock you would investigate and find out why. Generally, we do not investigate and find out the root cause for the rework which will be due to one of, or a combination of poor:
Operational Excellence (getting rid of the enemy within)
When working with clients we have three horizons for their improvement objectives:
Horizon 1: Operational Excellence. Being efficient and measuring rework reduction as an efficiency KPI.
Horizon 2: Business growth. Improve sales and margins.
Horizon 3: Succession Planning
Two steps toward Operational Excellence.
Here are two steps you could take to reduce rework, improve efficiency and safety.
Step One. Name it and explain it. Meet with staff to explain what rework is and how much it impacts on the business, the stress levels of team members and safety.
Step Two: Measure and provide feedback. Make rework an agenda item at your team meetings. Get your staff to each report on how many hours of rework they undertook for the week/month.
At one client’s business we gave managers and staff a rework diary and asked them to record the number of rework hours they completed, the department/person where the rework originated and the root cause – poor structures, resources, competencies and or commitment.
The result? Rework for the week dropped by 50 per cent! Why? Everyone was being measured!
So, back to the original question, how much rework do you do in a typical week? How efficient is your team?
Put in place the two-step reduction process, because we don’t achieve higher enough margins to do the same job twice.
Note: If you would like a copy of the rework diary template, just send us an email.
The place was a small country town in far north western NSW. A population of around 1500 people. The pub represented the towns past glory; 50 rooms and taking up the best part of the town’s main street.
We were in town to conduct a men’s health night. All of NSW and most of Australia for that matter was in the savage and relentless grip of the hope sapping millennium drought.
Sixty men turned-up. Akubra hats and R M Williams boots all round. Crushing handshakes and really unique nick names. One bloke introduced himself and his son, “G’day Nev, they call me Ballbag and this here is my son, Sack” he said with a droll voice which was as dry as the drought. I was busting to ask him how he got his nickname, but didn’t, just in case he showed me.
Time to start. They’d been promised a fun night out even though men’s health is a serious topic. I told a story about a bloke back home who was mowing his lawns - a member of the audience yelled out “What are lawns?” When the laughter died down, I continued. “The bloke mowing his lawns had to stop every few metres to catch his breath and wait for the pain in his chest to abate before he could continue with the mowing.”
I then posed the rhetorical question “Fellas, guess what this bloke needed to do?” I paused for effect. I shouldn’t have paused. A hand went up. Someone at the back of the room had the answer, yep it was Ballbag. He said in his dry drawl, “Ole mate needs to go to the doctors to get a prescription for a %$# ride on mower!” His answer rocked the pub’s foundations.
Here in the depth of a drought men of outback NSW were laughing. What a tonic.
In the ag business we are the business; it’s a personal relationship business. We can change shirts from blue to green and most of our clients will follow us. This also means that if we fall over, our businesses are at risk of falling over too.
Why a focus on men’s’ health in country areas? Here are the death discrepancies between males and females in different age groups.
0 - 14 age group
· Suicide 400% higher than females
· Car Accidents 214% higher than females
· Drugs 83% higher than females
· Accidents 266% higher. than females
Of a study involving 10,000 people only 38% of those with a mental disorder sought help. Of that 38 % only 28% of men sought help and men in rural Australia only 11% of men sought help!
Stubbornness and pride can kill us.
The men in the room laugh at seeing the sign. When their laughter stops, I let the silence underscore the seriousness consequences of men not asking for help.
I then ask the audience to stand and take the ‘I’ll ask for help’ oath. I get them to grab their private parts with their right hands and raise their left hands like they’re in a court witness box. I then get them to repeat
Being in the ag business in a prolonged dry spell is difficult. We care about our clients and often we can catch their moods. There is no need to struggle alone. Help is all around us, we just need to ask.
If this article has raised any concerns, please contact your local GP or phone Lifeline 13 11 14, or if you’re concerned about someone in your business you can give me a call.