July 23, 2014

Half of Your Team is About to Quit….12 things to do about it

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A recent survey of over 30,000 employees including 2400 US-based employees had some grim results.  One-third of US employees are considering leaving their current company – it’s even worse with younger employees.  There are also those who are so unmotivated that they are unproductive.  Statistically, those who are either ready to leave or are completely unmotivated make up half of your team.  They are dragging your team’s performance down with them faster than your stars can pick it up.

Dave Anderson outlines 12 leadership principles in How to Lead by The Book that he says are time-tested methods of managing people.  Since one of the Lean pillars is respect of the people, many of Anderson’s principles dove tail with Lean Leadership:

  1. Lead by example – Lean Leaders need to be at the Gemba (on the production floor or wherever the action is).  They need to see the issues with their own eyes and show their energy around Lean activity.
  2. Set clear expectations for your employees – Lean Leaders will set clear goals for Kaizens and other Lean activities.
  3. Provide honest and clear feedback to help your employees improve – this becomes easier when you have clear goals and expectations.
  4. Train, coach and mentor your direct reports - Lean Leaders have many opportunities to develop their team.  You can’t miss this one if you are leading by example, going to the Gemba, and actively participating in training with your team.
  5. Keep your commitments, no matter what - Lean Leaders respect the individual.  You are not respecting your team if you can’t keep your commitments to them.
  6. Teach your employees what good performance looks like without doing their work for them – Lean Leaders are in the trenches with their team and can teach and demonstrate them how it’s done.  Then they step back and let the team show how it’s done.
  7. Take the time to listen to your employees - Lean Leaders make the team a big part of the problem solving process.  They will listen to the operators when walking through their production floor.  They will also seek their input while doing a PDCA or 5-Why Root Cause Analysis.
  8. Learn how to motivate everyone on your team individually - Lean Leaders engage individuals and teams.
  9. Become a role model - Lean Leaders demonstrate the right attitude, integrity and discipline.  How can you expect your team to have more character than you do?
  10. Hold your employees accountable when they need to be, without delay – Respect for the individual drives the Lean Leader to provide the feedback one needs to reach his or her potential.
  11. Positively reinforce your team - Lean Leaders celebrate success with their teams.
  12. Offer opportunities to grow so each team member can become a more valuable employee – Lean activities are growth opportunities.

I am currently leading a Lean – TPM implementation with three teams in two food manufacturing companies.  These operators are growing in their knowledge and confidence.  They tell me that they don’t need to call for help as often and are proud of what they are doing.  Do you think that they are looking for another job or are unproductive?


Teams respond to effective leadership.  They also respond to being engaged in Lean activities.  Have you seen any of these 12 principles in action?  What does your team need?  What are you doing today to engage your team?

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  • http://www.GinaAbudi.com Gina Abudi

    Enjoyed the article – a great list of ideas here that certainly anyone can – and should – implement to increase their overall business success. The best employees are the ones who walk out the door when they are not engaged nor valued in the business.

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  • http://christianpaulsen62.wordpress.com/ Christian Paulsen

    Thanks, Gina. You raise a great point. Companies are likely to lose top performers if they are not treated well. It could turn into an open flood gate when the economy and job market finally improve.