OPEN TO CHANGE
At Custom Castings, we empower our team to challenge our industry’s status quo.
Our Continuous Improvement Program looks to achieve a better, faster, and safer workplace. The question is, though, “how do we build it and do so successfully?”
Simply put, if any member of our team recognizes there’s a problem, whether minor or major, they have the freedom and encouragement to work with team leaders and attempt to solve it. Continuous Improvement sees no scale, welcomes all ideas, and creates avenues that promote communication throughout team members and leaders.
HAND OVER THE CONTROLS
Continuous improvement is no stranger to manufacturing and it’s commonly accepted as a best practice. While the idea is easy to understand, buying into, execution, and follow through is often where the challenge lies.
A culture of continuous improvement doesn’t just happen on its own: it begins with full support from leaders. However, in order to achieve sustainable success, it must become employee-led.
Continuous Improvement doesn’t work in a command and control environment. So, how do we encourage the exact opposite of that? By breaking down barriers (job roles, departments, and silos), we accept we’re all one team and work together to improve our company and our industry.
THE DIRE ALTERNATIVE
In a command and control environment, employees don’t have the same avenues promoting communication. There are no forums to provide feedback or foster cross-functional dialogue.
Employees can become too comfortable with the status quo due to a lack of encouragement – they show up for their 9-to-5 shift, do their job, and keep their head down.
Active engagement can keep employees focused on the task at hand and build a commitment to performing at a high level – allowing the organization to achieve greater product quality and build customer satisfaction.
It starts with empowering your team. Leaders should be responsible for this. You can spearhead this through invitations to share thoughts and ideas. Open the floor up to everybody. After all, they’re the ones who encounter – and are directly impacted by – these issues more so than management.
You don’t need to come up with the solution, simply identifying a problem is enough. Communicate what type of problem you’re encountering and we’ll find the solution together as a team.
BRINGING IT TO LIFE
We’ve added supporting processes and improved the physical working environment to complement our Continuous Improvement Program including 5S methodology, cellular transition, and onboarding new team members.
Continuous Improvement Tools
Our Cellular Transition:
Transitioning to a cellular manufacturing environment gave our team members the ability to handle different roles and learn new skills that gave them the confidence and capability to perform in all areas of our workspace. It also closes communication gaps by keeping all necessary processes in close proximity.
Continuous Improvement Tracker:
Each Continuous Improvement project follows the same steps outlined in our Tracker. We keep ourselves updated on all active projects (research, tests, failures, successes) and work to find a solution. Once complete, the team:
- Describes the problem they encountered
- Explains how they worked to solve it
- Highlights the solution they came up with
Every two weeks CCL executives get together, walk the facility, and interact with employees. This simple process allows executives to catch up with ongoing projects (Continuous Improvement and client-related projects), communicate ideas, and update the Continuous Improvement Tracker.
Huddles, Visual Boards, and Communications Screens:
We touched on these in one of our recent posts, which you can read here. These are simple yet effective tactics we use to help our employees feel valuable, acknowledged, and recognized.
Culture of Continuous Improvement
Continuous Improvement provides the freedom to try something, even if it might not work right away. The point is building and improving to achieve something better. Continuous Improvement promotes learning and development.
Our Continuous Improvement Program gives our team members access to change their work environment. Leaders of the program ensure the team members know exactly where to go with problems or ideas.
Inspiring growth and inviting change helps us challenge the status quo – our Continuous Improvement Program is critical to building teamwork and engendering the culture that ensures sustainable success.