50% Step Reduction
Mike, Foreman for an electrical contractor in Battle Ground, WA, told Session 9B of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab:
“On a chilly November morning in Eugene, OR, I watched Thad as he spread out 700 feet of 1 inch conduit pipe on the ground in a rough H style (2 parallel lines with a connection in the center). This form outlined the ditch pattern that needs to be trenched. After laying out the last 100 feet, he opened up a can of glue and proceeded to lube each end, bell and male, then inserted them with a quarter turn. I noticed how efficient he was doing this and complimented him on his speed and care. Then I asked him if I could show him a trick that would complement his skill set and make the job just a little faster and more efficient. His response was ‘Absolutely!’ I showed him that on smaller 1 inch pipe like this, all he had to do is just lube the male end. This way he won’t push gobs of glue into the raceway of the pipe. He said ‘Thank you, I didn’t know that, this will save me a lot of time.’ Then I told him that when pulling wire through the raceway later, the wire will not ‘hang up’ on globs of dried glue and this will make the job easier for everyone.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is how easy coaching and training can be when I follow a simple formula and begin by asking permission prior to explaining my recommended change in approach.
“The action I call you to take is to ask permission before giving your coaching and training tips for continuous improvement to your senior workers, who are trying their best and already doing a good job.
“The benefit you will gain is your peers and coworkers will respect you and they will follow your suggestions and recommendations more willingly when they see ‘you really want to help.’ The atmosphere and productivity in your workplace will flourish.”
The path to continuous improvement and sustainable competitive advantage isn’t straight or paved with great leaps forward, don’t expect breakthroughs that double or quadruple production overnight. The continuous improvement path is circuitous, uneven, with many ups and downs. Your improvements in procedures and practices will come inch by inch, one step at a time.
Making these incremental improvements requires that every superintendent, every foreman, every crew leader be a masterful coach and trainer, equipped with the communication skill required to pass on the benefits of their years of trial and error, experience. By helping your leaders get better at coaching, on the job training and communicating all their ideas, you create an environment that attracts and keeps the best people on your team. You reduce turnover, increase referral hiring and your efficiency and productivity continuously improves.