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Help Your Business, Learn From Puppy Training
By Chuck Yorke

As leaders we always want to improve the performance of our organization. To improve we must release the creativity in our employees, leaders must get involved in their employees’ work. Customers want our products and services to be better, delivered faster, and produced less expensively. This means that everything we do needs to be improved. To stay competitive in this world we have to be better then we were last year and we should be prepared to be better next year. We must continuously improve. Engaged employees can show us the way. All employees can be thinking about how to reduce costs, looking at safety issues, reducing wastes and improving the environment, while at the same time developing skills to identify, articulate and communicate those kinds of things.

Engaging employees in improving their work creates new levels of communication and gives the ownership of improvements to the worker. We now recognize that “you know your job better then management does because you are the one that does it every day.” Since people are the expert in their work, who better to come up with ideas to improve it than them. Not everyone knows how to do this, but maybe it isn’t all that different than training a puppy. Following are common themes used in training puppies.

Have a proper kennel, it should not be too large, just enough space to stand up, turn around and lie down. Most puppies will not soil where they lay. Having too much space in your business attracts waste. Excess inventory, outdated machines, old files, and other junk will soil too large a space. Transporting parts and materials around the work area and any motions (such as walking across a large area) that do not add value to your product or service are additional wastes which can be eliminated or reduced by not having too much space.

Schedule all feeding times at the same time each day. Companies throughout Japan have a practice called the “manager’s walk,” where a manager walks through their area at the same time each day. A theme is selected for each walk, asks questions around the theme and shares information. This is a powerful process for learning and sharing information. So go out and ask your employees, “What can you do to make your job easier, more interesting, build your skills, and help the company save some money, improve safety, reduce defects, improve customer service, and reduce the time it takes us to deliver our products and our services?” Involvement is demanding and requires listening. Any process, any product, any service can be made better in some way, somehow. So involve your people and tap into their creative energy.

Spend as much quality time as possible with your new puppy, this encourages him to do the things you ask of him. To release the creativity in our employees, a leader must get involved in that employee’s work. They must follow up on employee ideas and promote employee involvement in the business. When we engage our employees and tap into their creative energy, they can show us ways to improve. All employees can be thinking about how to reduce costs, looking at safety issues, reducing wastes, and improving the environment, while at the same time developing skills to identify, articulate and communicate those kinds of things. What can people do with their creative energy? Michael took some wood, cardboard, and tape and made a ’flipper’ to close boxes, eliminating the work he was doing. Omar used a cardboard box to protect coworkers from a hot pipe. Later a plastic coated wire guard replaced the box. Claudia designed a fixture to hold bubble wrap she used for packaging. Physicians at UCLA Medical Center created software for storing medical images on Apple iPods, making the results mobile. Hyman Lipman took an eraser and put it on top of a pencil. I know you’ve used the result of his creative energy.

First thing in the morning take your puppy from the kennel to the area you’ve decided will be the place for your puppy to eliminate. If your puppy eliminates then praise and reward him. Your business also needs a consistent startup procedure. Maybe a quick meeting about what needs to be done today to share a common understanding of today’s goals. Be sure to include a review of some of your employee’s ideas and a plan for how you will challenge your people to improve the business. Also, think of topics for your “manger’s walk.” To release creativity in employees, managers must get involved in their employees’ work. Look at each employee as if he or she is the expert on the job and tap into their creative energy.

Proper clean up is critical to proper housetraining. A puppy will return to where he has eliminated before if it is not properly cleaned. Your workplace also needs to be properly maintained. Sort through your materials and remove what isn’t needed. Materials that are necessary should be properly stored, so everyone knows where everything goes. Clean equipment, tools and the workplace, this is a foundation for both safety and equipment maintenance. Once you do these things, you can standardize these practices and make a habit of following these procedures. Lean manufacturers call these the 5S of workplace organization – sort, store, shine, standardize, and sustain.

Prevention and positive encouragement are the best ways to teach your puppy. Once an employee identifies a solution to a problem, put a procedure or fixture in place to prevent the problem from reoccurring. Respond to your people’s ideas. Use praise, show respect, thank them and treat them the way you would like to be treated. See how their ideas can or cannot be implemented and provide positive feedback. We all want, need and deserve respect. Engaged people see the fruits of their labor as other people have accepted their ideas. Give positive feedback for a “job well done.”

Punishment won’t help. Screaming or hitting will only create fear, confusing and training your puppy to soil when you are not around. Enough said.

Copyright © 2005 Chuck Yorke - All Rights Reserved


Chuck Yorke
Chuck Yorke
About the Author:

Chuck Yorke is an organizational development and performance improvement specialist, trainer, consultant and speaker. He is co-author, along with Norman Bodek, of All You Gotta Do Is Ask, a book that explains how to promote large numbers of ideas from employees. Chuck may be reached at ChuckYorke@yahoo.com

All You Gotta Do Is Ask

All You Gotta Do Is Ask explains how to promote large numbers of ideas from your employees, something most organizations do very poorly, if at all. The people who manage such organizations are either unaware of the power of employee ideas, or they don’t know how to tap it. This easy-to-read book will show you why it is important to have a good idea system, how to set one up, and what it can do for you, your employees, and your organization. In 1989, for example, Japanese companies were averaging more than 37 ideas per employee, of which 87% were implemented. Quantifiable bottom-line savings were calculated at more than $4,000 per employee. By contrast, their U.S. competitors put little effort into encouraging employee ideas.



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