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How hands-on should a Manager be?

Whenever we’re approached to work with a company on an Op Ex project, one of the questions we ask ourselves is “How is the support from the Management team going to manifest itself?” This begs the question, “How hands-on should a Manager be?

Whilst it’s important that Leaders are open to the benefits of shorter lead time, reduced stock, higher quality and improved customer satisfaction that our work brings, how the Management runs their team is just as important. It’s vital for Leaders to demonstrate support, uphold standards and ensure project follow through, but getting too involved in the detail can hold back the process. Leaders who micro-manage, take over operational control or don’t empower their teams will get in the way and prevent improvements from bedding in at the Operations team level. Achieving the balance of encouragement vs empowerment of the operational team makes all the difference.

So, what’s the solution?

We develop an operating framework to check performance, air concerns and solve problems through a 3 step process:

  1. Monitor performance and raise problems at the shop floor to the Operational team, everyday, at a standard time and without fail.

  2. Develop structured problem solving as a regular habit where responsibility and ownership of change is firmly embedded at the lowest level in the organisation.

  3. Create visual management so that Managers can easily identify any abnormal condition, assessing when they need to get involved and when to leave it to the team to sort out.

This flexible framework drives operational improvement through the business whilst the routine feedback allows impending problems to be solved before they create crises. Run on a daily basis this routine quickly becomes ‘the way we do things around here’ and a vital communication outlet between Leadership and the shop floor.

Just as a good General leads his army from the front, business leaders need to lend support, guiding and encouraging their staff to take ownership and to improve processes when and where required.

As Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what needs to be done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.


Contact us to discuss your Op Ex problems or to talk about how we can help your business achieve new performance highs.

ALC Ltd.

ALC Ltd.

Driving Efficiency in Business

We take Lean principles derived from Manufacturing and apply them across all industry sectors:

  • Manufacturing
  • Service
  • Administration

Lean is a universal concept!

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