06-16-15Brian, Branch Manager of a Springfield commercial truck service company, told session 4 of the Performance Team Lab (PTL),

“When we opened our Branch in Springfield I had to delegate a lot of tasks to get it up and running in time for our grand opening. I empowered my Parts and Shipping/Receiving Team to set up the invoicing process so that it was clear if parts were to be mailed, at will call, or delivered for an outside salesman.

“They did a great job, then we started having some parts failing to go out on time and customers getting upset because of late deliveries. The team brought it to my attention, they felt I needed to step in and evaluate the process.

“I found that there was confusion between the counter staff and shipping about what orders were supposed to be mailed, what orders were for will call and what orders were to be delivered. I made a step by step process flow map for each of the sub sets of the overall process. Then I went over it with everyone in a short meeting.

“This has cleared up the confusion and everyone has accepted their part in the process that must be completed correctly so our customers get what they need, when they need it, at the correct location (the right part, at the right time, at the right place) and are satisfied.

“The lesson I learned from this experience is to fully empower my people, I must document all of our processes and monitor the processes our team is following.

“The action I call you to take is to empower your people to do what they need to do, document your processes, and monitor occasionally to make sure the process is accurate, understood and working properly.

“The benefits you will gain are more engaged employees, improved productivity and more success fulfilling your customer requirements.”

A successful team doesn’t just operate within the limits of an existing process. Process improvement becomes a way of life resulting in continuous improvements. Through this constant study, continuous improvement becomes a part of the fabric of your culture. Here are the steps you can follow to improve your processes:

  1. Analyze and label each step in the process.
  2. Determine where variances occur in the process.
  3. Create an improved process everyone agrees upon.
  4. Determine what is working.
  5. Implement.
  6. After pre-determined amount of time (example: 30 days), review the updated process.
  7. Make any necessary changes.
  8. Celebrate!

After these steps are taken, your team will grow from being “messy toddlers,” to “noisy teenagers,” finally into interdependent “mature adults.” This may require sacrificing your own preferences. It will require the ability to listen to and respect others. This is authentic team work.