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  • Bill Greider

Have You Thanked Anyone Today?


I had the honor of teaching a class at Central CT State University a few years ago called "Leadership Skills for Supervisors". One of their assignments was for the students to videotape an interview with their boss, and ask them a series of 10 questions. Then, we got to sit back each class, as two students per week introduced their boss, and we watched the video. We had the pleasure of watching the interviews of 28 different bosses. Shift supervisors at McDonald's to a Quality Manager at an aerospace company a manager at Dunkin Donuts to a military leader. One of the questions our students asked was "how do you motivate people that work for you?"


Often, they talked about corporate employee incentive ways of saying thank you. Gift cards, free meals, more hours or overtime, things like that. Eventually, after some thought, EVERY single supervisor said, "sometimes I simply thank them" for a job well done or for going above and beyond. Quick, when was the last time YOU were either thanked for a job well done, or YOU thanked someone in your company? 


I believe real gratitude needs to be a part of a LEAN leader's standard work. All lean leaders KNOW that much of what we do takes people a while to get their minds around. Chances are, people are being asked to think and behave in a way they may not have for years or even decades. People "get it" when it makes sense to them, and when they see it as beneficial to what they do every day.  Particularly significant is the level of teamwork required to truly improve incrementally and steadily. People need to think of the person they hand their parts or report to as their customer. As a leader make sure you are open and receptive to seeing people making progress. Gratitude will accelerate your lean journey. There are 4 things you need to keep in mind:


1. People want & NEED your input. We all need to know that what we do for a living is IMPORTANT! Some leaders I talk to say, "their paycheck is their thank you". How do YOU feel when your boss goes out of his or her way to find you and say, "WOW!!! How did you do that?". I bet it will be the first thing that comes out of your mouth when you get home that night. Sometimes a simple "would you show me your improvement?" is good. 

2. Create new standard work for yourself. If you're like me, Monday morning instantly turns into Friday afternoon. Find opportunities to raise people up. Be determined to do it daily. Go see someone you heard has gone above and beyond, call someone, whatever. This is pretty easy when you have created a culture of continuous improvement! 

3. Be genuine and sincere in your gratitude. People ARE doing phenomenal, creative things and are demonstrating OWNERSHIP qualities in their own  processes. If you make it a habit to "go to Gemba" and see, you'll hear yourself saying to someone, "my God!!! I would have NEVER thought of that, how did you do that?!?"  

4. Lean is about people, not tools. Toyota says "build leaders, then cars". Leaders does NOT mean managers. It means people who "thoroughly understand work, understand the company philosophy, and teaches it to others"-principle 9 of the TPS.


Believe ME, nobody ever gets to be a lean anything by themselves! LEAN is a growth strategy, not a hobby or program. Every employee needs to know that they are an essential part of building something great.


Make sure people know you love em. Have you thanked anyone today?

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