Ongoing improvement in any industry is essential for the success of a business. When companies, or even individual facilities, become stagnant, their competition can quickly overtake them. With this in mind, it is important for all companies, and the individuals who make them up, should always be trying to make improvements.
In many facilities, the main focus is on workflow improvement. Things like adjusting the way a particular part is made, for example, can decrease the amount of time it takes and eliminate some types of waste. These types of improvement are excellent, and essential for the success of businesses. Unfortunately, however, they are also much more difficult to come by, and constant improvements like these can’t be sustained.
For companies that are looking for ways to promote ongoing improvement throughout a facility, it is better to focus on the routine decisions that are made every day by employees of all levels. Helping people learn how to analyze a given decision, and make it with the best interest of the company at heart, will allow for things to run more smoothly.
Different types of companies and facilities will need to approach this in a way that works out best for them, but the general concept can be applied to any situation. If, for example, a manufacturing facility provides training to their employees regarding what the end result for each part it, it can give them more information to work with when making decisions. Rather than having to follow a set standard with every decision they make, it can give them additional flexibility to make smarter decisions on a regular basis.
One of the things that make this focus much more effective is the fact that employees make dozens of decisions every day. Multiply this out by every employee in a company, and it is easy to see why this is so critical. Even though the vast majority of these decisions are small and almost insignificant in nature, the sheer number of them makes them one of the best ways to influence change in a facility.
When employees aren’t encouraged to make better decisions on their own, they are often constrained by the processes and procedures. When something comes up that is not clearly defined, they often have to stop what they are doing to seek advice or clarification. This, of course, wastes the time of both the employees and the manager they are asking the question of.
Daily Decisions Drive Workflow Improvement
Another important thing to consider when working to improve the daily decisions of employees through the facility is the fact that it is these decisions that lead to the workflow improvements. When people are given the opportunity and ability to make smarter daily decisions, they will be more likely to find ways to improve the work is done. Rather than focusing directly on attempting to improve workflow, which can often result in forced changes that don’t work out well, focusing on daily decisions leads to a much more organic and natural workflow improvement cycle.
Employees making informed decisions will typically want to share the positive results of those decisions with others, which may come in the form of a workflow improvement idea. While not all of them will be implemented, it can often lead to a steady stream of improvement ideas to be evaluated and possibly implemented.
Improved Employee Engagement
Another reason that focusing on better decisions is such a smart idea is the fact that it will empower employees to make decisions on their own. Empowered employees are far more likely to be actively engaged in their work. They often have a greater sense of purpose in their job, which makes them significantly more productive. When employees are forced to ask for permission or for clarification on even small decisions, they can become disheartened and become disengaged with their work. This can lead them to look for work at another company, or just stay with the company but become unproductive.