How well do you know what your employees are doing? How they’re doing it? How it’s working? How they feel about what they’re doing? Does it matter that you know? Are there consequences, if you don’t? Are there benefits, if you do? The short answer is, there are both consequences AND benefits.
What You Don’t See WILL Hurt You
The view from the ivory tower is endless, clear as day except for that which you cannot see. It’s the things you cannot see (or choose not to) that can bring irreparable harm to your business. If ever there was a compelling call to action, it’s this- get your head out of the sand (and out of the office) and answer the questions posed above for yourself. Hiding behind reports and the word of others, no matter how detailed the reports or wise the reporter, is a recipe for disaster.
I’m Just Too Busy
If you’re too busy to make this a priority, just wait a bit. Sooner than later your business will suffer a catastrophic crash and you’ll have all the time in the world. Does that sound like a better plan? Act now and reap the benefits of your efforts.
Tell Me the Consequences
There are a variety of things at stake, most important of all, the integrity of your business. Nobody works alone. We depend upon our employees to execute tasks, build relationships and, in short, keep our businesses alive and well. If we don’t maintain a direct line to who they are and what they’re doing, we risk losing their trust, buy-in, commitment and effort.
How About the Benefits?
Among the benefits:
- Increased employee motivation and productivity
- Increased feelings of trust and camaraderie
- process improvement
- Deeper understanding of what makes your business tick (or not)
- Greater understanding and appreciation for the value of your employees (and their leaders)
What Can I Do?
The Gemba Walk is a technique that may be unfamiliar to many. Essentially, it means going to the place where the work is done, observing what’s done and learning from those who perform the work. Walking the Gemba requires that you go to where the action is. The mere presence of a genuinely interested and curious owner or manager is a powerful motivator.
Your front-line employees know better than anyone what’s being produced and how. Whether it’s products, services or sales, it’s these people that are responsible for bringing your business goals to fruition.
The Gemba Walk is a strategic component of lean manufacturing, but it’s applicable to any operation, lean or otherwise. There is a tendency to compare The Gemba Walk to Management by Walking Around (MBWA) and they do possess similarities. The difference between the two is that each Gemba Walk has a singular focus (e.g., a particular task or process). The observation and discussion is in depth and covers all aspects of the task or process as well as the staff that is responsible for doing it.
The knowledge gleaned from a Gemba Walk can lead to process improvement, increased productivity and engagement as well as increased employee trust and loyalty. Seems like a great return for getting out of your office and into the action. Why are you still sitting there?