Applied Lean Consulting

Driving Efficiency in Business
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ALC’s ARTICLE SERIES

Cut the work – not the workforce!

Process Improvement”, “Rightsizing” and “Operational Excellence” are synonymous with getting ‘more’ out of the business by identifying and eliminating waste.

Yet these terms can strike fear into the grass-roots of the organisation – the workers at the ‘coal face’ of your business. We need to be clear that when we’re implementing these changes, we’re looking to make work redundant not heads! That’s why it’s so important for Leadership to engage with their teams and have honest conversations before they embark on their efficiency plans, rather than planning in secret huddles and deploying from afar.

ALC have found that an effective way to improve organisational output is to ask the ‘coal face’ workers for help. By empowering them to question what they do and why they do it, and engaging their help in identifying waste and driving improvements you can yield fantastic results. But this approach requires honesty, engagement and the trust of the workforce. The ‘what’s in it for them?’ includes less bureaucracy, greater job satisfaction and taking ownership for their work, but you won’t get their help if they think that their jobs are at risk. Re-deployment into other areas of the business, or a freeze on new hires, allowing a reduction in overall workforce via natural wastage are preferred routes – and they can help maintain morale.

Your workforce need to be the partners in your transformation, not the victims…!