Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Quality Insider Features
Bryan Christiansen
Theory and steps
Knowledge at Wharton
Technology companies aren’t equipped to dislodge traditional automakers from the driver’s seat and must learn to share the controls
Jim Benson
Don’t just set and forget KPIs or other metrics. Understand the true narrative of the work you do.
John Baldoni
John Baldoni interviews Garry Ridge about clarity and hope amid crisis
George Schuetz
Hand gauges at the point of manufacture are commonplace, but this doesn’t mean just any gauge can be used

More Features

Quality Insider News
Offset-aware programming of spindle transfers and bar pulls helps manufacturers drive multichannel CNC machinery
Delivers curved-surface analysis tools, helps deploy PolyWorks|Inspector as a standard offline CNC/CMM sequencing solution
Includes global overview and new additive manufacturing section
Address equipment issues before a catastrophic failure occurs
ISO 37301 provides everything needed to develop, implement, maintain, and improve an effective compliance management system
All-in-one package reduces complexity and overall cost of use
Extant ornament pieces scanned using the Artec Leo 3D scanner in HD mode
Multiple measurement and statistical displays with numeric and graphic layout, trend limits, data traceability, batch management, part counters, data storage
True 3D holographic displays are practical with only moderate computational requirements

More News

Bruce Hamilton

Quality Insider

Senior Moments

During a gemba walk, a manager’s impact can be expressed in seconds

Published: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 14:21

I was speaking last week with, Jen, a senior manager at a large manufacturer, and she commented to me, “I know it’s important for me to get to the floor, but the time involved for me and my staff to regularly visit two dozen different departments makes this seem like an impossible task.” She was alluding to the scheduled gemba walks, which were a component of her and her reports manager’s standard work.

“I understand the challenge,” I said, having faced that myself in my last job. “As a senior manager it’s important for you to be present both to observe, and also to show your commitment to improvement. Spend whatever time you can, but make sure you use the time well.”

Sometimes I worry about the scripted gemba walks. Even with the script, they often look like a management posse. And one thoughtless comment or even a thoughtless gesture by the senior visitors can create exactly the opposite effect of what is intended.

But managers can make a very positive impact on employee engagement in just moments. It’s the quality of the interaction, not the duration, that’s telling. About 10 years ago, GBMP produced a DVD, Moments of Truth, to demonstrate how short encounters, either deliberate or inadvertent, between managers and employees can have a powerful impact. A short clip from that video, starring GBMP staff members, demonstrates (with a little humor of course) how important a single moment can be.

Of course, the moments of truth could just as well be positive. An employee at a large insurance company related to me recently that, after a short time on the job, he found a note on his desk from a senior vice president whom he’d never met, welcoming him and stating, “I’m hearing from your manager that you’re already making terrific contributions to our improvement program. Thanks.” That note set the tone for the employee’s career. It didn’t require a structured gemba walk and probably took about 10 seconds to write—literally moments. But it showed commitment from the highest level of the organization, both to the new employee and to his direct supervisor.

I related that story to Jen, and she smiled. “I can think of a few of those moments, both good and bad, that I had when I was on the front line.”

How about you? Are you watching for those moments of truth? Gemba walks are important, but a manager’s impact can be expressed in seconds.

Discuss

About The Author

Bruce Hamilton’s picture

Bruce Hamilton

Bruce Hamilton, president of the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP), brings hands-on experience as a manager, teacher, and change agent. Prior to GBMP, Hamilton led efforts to transform United Electric Controls Co.’s production from a traditional batch factory to a single-piece-flow environment that has become an international showcase. Hamilton has spoken internationally on lean manufacturing, employee involvement, continuous improvement, and implementing change; and he has contributed to numerous texts ranging from visual control to variety reduction. Hamilton’s blog, Old Lean Dude, is an on-going reflection on lean philosophy and practices with an emphasis on keeping good jobs close to home.