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Continuous Improvement Applies to People not just Processes

Written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe at LI Europe.

When we talk about continuous improvement in manufacturing, our thoughts often jump straight to operational processes. However, we also need to invest in continuous improvement of people too, especially ourselves.

A solicitor must keep up to date with new laws and changes to legislation in order to stay effective. A doctor must keep abreast of changes to medical procedures so they can continue to offer patients the best possible care.

In the same way, manufacturing professionals must stay up to date with changes within their industry. This applies to technological advances, industry regulations and methodologies for achieving operational excellence. Managers also need to continually build on their management and leadership skills to ensure they can motivate and lead teams effectively.

The world is constantly evolving and with it the workplace. The manufacturing industry has certainly advanced in the last century and the rate of advancement is rapidly increasing.

Technology has seen the most obvious progression, but management style has also seen some major shifts. There was a time when employees were trained to be seen and not heard. They arrived, did their work and, if they were lucky, went home with all their limbs at the end of the day.

Fortunately, most companies have now realised that productivity is greatly increased if employee wellbeing is taken seriously. They have also found that their employees often have the best insights into how operations can be improved.

The point is that things change; something you learnt ten years ago may have been innovative at the time, but may not be best practice, or even good practice anymore. If managers aren’t investing in their own personal development, then they will eventually become ineffective.

It’s not just new skills that need developing; refreshing your existing skills and knowledge is just as important.

Knowledge can fade with time, especially if we aren’t using that knowledge on a regular basis. Think about a book you have read more than once – it’s highly likely that you picked up on things when you read it the second time that you missed on the first read.

Our brain is like a computer and just as a computer needs regular updates, so does our mind. Too many managers spend all their time developing their people and processes that they neglect their own development. Ever been too busy to read a new research paper on health and wellbeing at work, or to attend a management course, or to improve your knowledge of a new piece of equipment? These types of task may not be urgent, but they are important.

Our Ambassador Academy is an opportunity for manufacturing professionals to meet monthly to share best practice. This is an ideal opportunity to work on your own personal development. You can learn about training opportunities, new technologies and management techniques, as well as hone your lean tools skills.

If you’d like to know more about this opportunity, visit our Ambassadors webpage.

Testimonials

A key learning for me was that delegation is as much about the development of others as it is removing an action from my list. I now think of delegation as an opportunity for my team to develop and try new things. The more I do it, the more effective it is. Delegation is now one of my key management tools.

Front Line Manager on Aspire Programme

Firstly, Reckitt Benckiser and LI pulled together to improve efficiency levels and there was a focus on both external and internal resources. Before LI arrived efficiency was not good. Secondly, there was good methodology and training using operators to support its implementation. Thirdly, there was daily and hourly focusing on performance. Since LI left, improvements have been sustained.

Bart Derde, Supply Projects Director (Europe), Reckitt Benckiser