By Lea Tonkin
Set aside your reservations about sharing information on business strategies throughout your organization.
Transparency counts when you’re seeking buy-in and innovative ideas to support achievement of organizational goals, counseled Jd Marhevko, senior vice president of quality, lean and EHS at Accuride Corporation, based in Evansville, IN. The company is a manufacturer and supplier of wheels and wheel-end components to the global commercial vehicle industry. Marhevko noted that one of leadership’s key roles, after developing business strategies, is ensuring that employees understand what those strategies are. “Studies have shown that many executives mistakenly believe that strategies should be secret, so competitors cannot gain advantage,” she said.
Or they may believe that employees cannot understand the objectives.
“Leadership needs evolve from that,” said Marhevko, co-author of the book, “Lean Management 50-50-20.”
“Employees who understand key business strategies such as customer satisfaction, increased margin, higher sales or cash conversion, are better positioned to help the company succeed. You can help to make things happen, whether you are in quality, sales, engineering or any other function.”
When employees gain information about the organization’s key initiatives, such as overall quality improvement, Marhevko encouraged, they are equipped to evaluate, “How can I help?” “We can’t achieve goals in a vacuum,” she said. “There are typically multiple initiatives involved to manage the varied priorities. When people determine what actions to take, we can identify how to measure progress, to hold ourselves accountable for the results. People need to know how well they’re doing.”
Identify both leading and lagging indicators to get the results you want. By focusing on leading indicators, the lags will follow. For example, scrap, rework and operating efficiency might all be leading indicators to margin. If those track well, then margin should, too. Customers often focus on lagging indicators, because that is how they compare suppliers to one another.
Hoshin Kanri –breaking down strategies and communicating them in a way that clarifies opportunities for change, empowers organization-wide engagement in improvement initiatives, according to Marhevko. Through a catch ball process of give and take, employees work as a team to determine how to make progress happen. “When teams work together to develop the plan, we all make progress together, enabling our company to be more agile and effective,” said Marhevko. “It’s a transparent process, where people need to be brave enough to ask questions and be questioned, and to share ideas for improvement.”
Marhevko said that Accuride’s effective strategies for communicating high-level business strategy and overall performance include an organizational newsletter as well as regular town hall meetings conducted at each site. All employees get a “state of the business” update and can get their questions answered. “People are hungry for information,” Marhevko said. “The more our people know, in every role that they are in, the better positioned they are to help make a difference at Accuride.”
For information about AME regional events focused on people-centric leadership and workforce issues, employee engagement, lean implementation and other topics, check ame.org. Watch for details about tours, presentations, workshops and special interest sessions planned for AME San Diego 2018, including Jd Marhevko’s presentation on Linking Lean and Quality Systems with Business Strategies at ame.org/sandiego.
Lea Tonkin, a contributing writer for AME regional newsletters, is the president of Lea Tonkin Communications, Woodstock, IL.