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Including Employees with Kanban

Including Employees with Kanban 28.03.2019 - On the online portal Print.de Manuel Lehmann reports in an article about his experiences with Kanban and about his methods how he involves his employees in different change processes. Lehmann is the founder and owner of a management consulting company called ML+. The company has the nickname "Stiftung für positive Unruhe" (Foundation for Positive Unrest), which is a joke but at the same time a fitting reference to the core business, namely change and transformation. Manuel Lehmann is often referred to as an expert on change - in every respect. That's why Print.de asked him how he sees employee participation and how he wants to best implement it. Lehmann names six points that he sees as essential in this process. He explains them using the example of order management. In the following we summarize the article for you.
 
Order management made easy with Kanban
 
Manuel Lehmann from the management consultancy ML+ sees the possibility of involving employees in a wide variety of processes everywhere. The dynamic and creative company coach cites the ordering process for consumables as an example. Lehmann has made good experiences with placing simple processes such as ordering in the hands of the individual employees instead of leaving them in the hands of the plant manager or the secretary's office. He sees Kanban cards as the perfect solution here. So there are cards that are always deposited in the material stacks where it is time to order new material. If an employee gets to the point where he or she finds the card for a certain material, he or she knows that replenishment must be ordered in order to keep the stock level at the desired level. This employee then has to do something. He or she can, for example, simply hand in the card to the office that is ultimately responsible technically for placing the orders, or call the person responsible. The great advantage of this integration of all employees into the various processes is that nobody has to be paid specifically to constantly check stocks. Control is simply a part of everyone's day-to-day work. This is a very simple example, but it shows how Kanban can be used to change and simplify processes.
 
Involvement of employees
 
Not only the order management according to Kanban in its different forms can be a great help for the integration of employees. Lehmann also mentions five other aspects that are essential for him. An open management style is essential if employees are to be involved in processes. Responsibility must be shared, which is why authoritarian leadership does not fit in here. On the one hand, a manager must be able to delegate, hand over responsibility and trust his or her employees. Of course, things can go wrong. However, trust in employees is essential if a company wants to develop into a modern and cooperative future. Change can only take place in a company if the manager shows his or her willingness to change and regularly gets involved in the (good) ideas of the employees.
 
No change without communication
 
The second point that Lehmann emphasizes is the culture of communication. This must be established and supported by the manager. It is best to call a meeting with all employees in which the "new" communication structure is explained. For this explanation, a kind of interactive workshop is best, in which the employees themselves can participate in creating the new communication culture and structure. How would they like to communicate with their collegues? How do they want to be addressed, respond, hold meetings, receive tasks, submit reports? What should be the tone of contact and how formal should meetings and chains of command be? But also: Who must and wants to be involved in which decision-making processes? Who wants to have a say in what and who can do what well? And then a communication culture is jointly described and established, which is gradually evaluated on the basis of new workshops and seminars and, if necessary, adapted organically.
 
Kanban, structured workplaces and idea management
 
In addition to integrating Kanban into the ordering process and various other processes within the company, Lehmann also suggests creating structured workplaces and establishing institutionalized idea management. Lehmann calls structured workplaces a concept according to which all objects, materials and tools are stored in a fixed place. In this way, it is always clear at a glance whether something is running out or missing - and ideally not only when it is urgently needed. The search for objects and material is to be avoided by the fact that everyone finds everything, which he or she needs for the daily work, at a firmly defined place. This requires some discipline, but is a proven concept. It is based on the 5S method, which comes from Japan. It has been used there for many decades in car manufacturing and is very successful. When organizing the respective workplace, the employee working there must always be involved. The last important point for Lehmann is idea management. In principle, this involves involving employees in decision-making processes, listening to their ideas on a wide variety of questions and problems and taking them seriously. Lehmann recommends that employees write all their ideas down on cards, so that none of the ideas can get lost, which happens quite often in a meeting.

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