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The Third of Four Questions For a Frontline Manager …

May 29, 2023
Where are we in this series? Our frontline leaders can easily and consistently identify any difference between WHAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING and WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING, and they are applying a robust training system thus addressing ‘don’t know, can’t do’. So, what’s next and necessary for system stability?

Next is addressing the often more prevalent and certainly more challenging problem of ‘does know, can do, but isn’t doing’.

Quite logically … (Assuming a people based system) if problems associated with ‘does know, can do, but isn’t doing’ never happened, then we simply wouldn’t need frontline leaders! Or at least their role may be vastly diminished. Experience suggests we need them! Further, they need the habits and skill we’ll soon discuss.

Six weeks ago we proposed four questions a frontline manager can ask in order to drive strengthening the production or service system. They were:

With respect to our daily work, how easy is it for Leaders to identify any difference between WHAT SHOULD BE HAPPENING and WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING? (This one was discussed at length four weeks ago.)

How is our (potential) problem/risk of ‘don’t know, can’t do’ being considered and addressed? (This one was discussed at length two weeks ago.)

How is our problem/risk of ‘does know, can do, but isn’t doing’ being addressed?

How is our daily work being planned, reflected on, misses noted with recurring issues being addressed?

We will now have a closer look at the third one. There are two leadership aspects to consider – a proactive aspect and a reactive aspect. First the proactive.

Dave Hyem, ex Site Director with Boeing, said in 2018 “If people don’t trust your intent, it will be difficult to make progress.” If we want the people who work for us to apply the work standards they have been trained in (responses to questions one and two above), a critical pre-requisite is trust.

There are four foundational ‘themes’ around which we can build daily habits and thinking which have been proven (by Dave Hyem for example) to build trust. They are:

  • Let each worker know how they are doing.
  • Give credit when due.
  • Tell people in advance about changes that will affect them.
  • Make best use of each person’s ability.

Now for the reactive aspect.

Dave Hyem also said “Relationships are the foundation of accomplishment, the stronger the relationship the better the accomplishment.” Human relationships are complex, and ‘relationships’ will be wobbly at times – humans will be humans! When this occurs, we need a ‘scientific thinking pattern’ in order to develop a ‘human problems handling skill’. Such a pattern will have the following elements.

Determine our objective.

1. Get the facts.

2. Decide what to do (which includes weigh up the facts).

3. Do it.

4. Check results.

One way of developing the habits and skill above is to learn then deliberately practise the pattern of TWI Job Relations. (There may well be other ways of course.) If you have questions re any aspect of that above, please email Oscar (