Lean in Practice: Policy Deployment

Recently, we have been holding Peer-to-Peer Lean in Practice trainings.  We feel that it is very important for manufacturers to have an opportunity to learn from one another. If one manufacturer really excels at something (in this case, Scholle IPN with lean policy deployment), we want other manufacturers to be able to hear straight from the source what makes them so good at it. Lean Practices can be applied to many different parts of an organization, so we decided to host multiple trainings in order to give an in depth look into each one!

For our third installment of the Lean In Practice training series, Scholle IPN Packaging hosted a training on Policy Deployment.  Our trainer for this event, Greg Payne, Scholle’s Continuous Improvement Manager, stated: “What makes this approach unique is for the last two years shop floor employees also go through the Policy Deployment process and set their own shift or departmental strategic goals.”  Keep reading to learn more about creative ways to engage everyone in setting strategic goals for the year while ensuring alignment to business objectives!


Scholle’s Greg Payne discusses Policy Deployment

Greg Payne explained that the first, and oftentimes overlooked, step of policy deployment is to interview employees.  It can be very easy to begin the policy deployment process without being fully prepared. So, the best way to have an idea of what needs to be looked at is to ask people. Ask a lot of people.  Then, look through the interviews and find common themes within them.  If a pretty high percentage of interviews touch on safety, then that is something that should be addressed during the policy deployment meetings. After the interviewing process, select a team and create an agenda based on the information provided through the interviews.  Mr. Payne suggests that teams should rarely have more than twelve members.  Anymore than that and it can become difficult to facilitate the meetings.  He also stated that most of the time there will be people from other companies wanting to attend these meetings to experience policy deployment, but explained that it is a good idea to limit the number of visitors to two or three.


Team members and agenda from Scholle’s most recent Policy Deployment meeting.

Next, Mr. Payne discussed the importance of looking at things from a different perspective. It is easy to become too familiar with something.  You hear about it over and over to the point that you may look at it as something that’s just there but doesn’t directly affect you.  He gave us an example of safety practices (this was the major theme of their most recent meeting).  Employees are constantly hearing about safety and safety practices, so Mr. Payne decided to do an activity that would make safety more personal.  He had his team members hold their dominant hand behind their back and spread peanut butter on bread with their other hand.  This put safety  into a whole new perspective because they were able to personally experience what it could be like if something bad were to happen.

The next step of a successful Policy Deployment, is to break into small groups and take a critical look at results from previous Policy Deployments. Look at things that did work and things that didn’t work.  Try to better understand what made them work, or what led to their failure.  Mr. Payne also stated that it is important to to ask the question, “Did we address the policies that didn’t work before today, and how did we address them?” At the end of this step, the teams should try to come up with ways the failed policies (and the successful ones) could have been made better.


Analysis of previous Policy Deployment from a recent meeting.

After reviewing the results of past Policy Deployments, it is important to find “Common Understanding.”  Finding common understanding is a three step process. Reveal. Listen. Understand.  This step is where the interviews really come into play.  Teams look at the themes from the interviews as well as listen to statements from leadership to better understand what needs to be worked on.  Reveal= Interviews+Leadership Statements. Listen=Teams reviewing them.  It is also beneficial to do a SWOT Analysis during this time.  Identify strengths and weaknesses (internal forces that can be controlled) as well as opportunities and threats (outside forces that can’t be controlled but must be addressed.)

Now it is time to develop a strategy.  First, establish non-negotiables (these are things that senior management insists upon and must be deployed.) Then take the common themes that were discovered through common understanding and get to work! Each team is to make a list of objectives, priorities, and targets, as well as potential projects.  Once teams have completed this task, it is important to find a consensus.  Is everybody on the same page?  Mr. Payne stated that this can sometimes be the most difficult part.  It is very important to find common themes at this point to ensure everybody is engaged and passionate about the next steps.


Three teams’ Strategy Sheets with common themes circled. 

Once a consensus on which strategies to pursue has been established it is time to get to assign resources.  Mr. Payne stated that it’s really important to let people volunteer to lead the new policy projects rather than assign people; this way you can make sure the team leaders are really passionate about the new policies. If nobody is passionate, it probably isn’t worth being pursued.  After team leaders are established, a leadership sponsor (somebody in management) should join the team.  It is important to note that team members do not need to be present for the Policy Deployment meeting.  They can join afterward.

Finally, you want to “Deploy Down.”  Don’t just get leadership on board; you need everybody to be passionate about the new policies being implemented!  You can do this in number of ways.  Mr. Payne discussed letting different departments approach deployment in their own way as long as the specifics stay the same.  Policy can affect different levels in different ways, so let the implementation be specific to them and tailored to their needs.


Retaining Employees

The employer/employee relationship is a very interesting thing.  There are many different dynamics and variations depending on who you are and who your employee is, as well as what kind of environment you work in.  However, one characteristic that should always be present in an organization that aims to retain their employees is engagement.  In order to retain employees, you must fully engage them. [Please note that employee engagement does not require purchasing a big diamond ring, that’s the other engagement.] This term, “engagement” can lead to many questions: What is engagement? What does engagement have to do with my organization’s success? How do I engage my employees?  Well luckily for you, we have the answers to those questions thanks to Jim Christensen with Dale Carnegie Training of Tennessee, who recently led a retaining employees training session at our most recent Lunch-n-Learn.

What is Engagement?

Engagement is the emotional and intellectual commitment of employees to deliver high performance. You want to establish an eager want for people to do their best and for that to align with the needs of the company. In order to make this happen, you need to build the type of work environment that makes people feel appreciated and valued.  

What’s so great about it?

Well, a lot of things.  When employees are fully engaged, everybody benefits.  Employees who are fully engaged stay with the organization longer, contribute to the bottom line, and commit to quality.  They don’t just come to work and go through the motions to get paid; they come to work excited to make good things happen. This kind of positive attitude is contagious and makes the workplace better for everybody.  [See the infographic at the bottom of the page for more details regarding levels of engagement and its impact on the work being accomplished]

How can I engage my employees?

Well, to fully answer this question I’m going to answer a different one first. The three primary causes for employee disengagement are: their direct relationship with their immediate supervisor, trust issues with senior leadership, and pride in one’s organization.  To combat these things, it’s important to connect on a personal level.  Talk with your employees about things that interest them and find out what makes them tick.  Then build on that. Make them feel valued, this leads to confidence, which leads to them feeling empowered, enthusiastic, and inspired.  If they are doing a good job, tell them..and be specific about it.  Show your appreciation.  

As part of the Lunch-n-Learn, we visited Tempur-Sealy in Duffield, Va. and they do an incredible job at employee engagement. While at the plant, we were given a presentation about what they did to engage their employees.  Many things were discussed such as company picnics, training for employees, costume contests, and even a fun “Pie Day” where employees get a pie in celebration of National Pie Day.  There was even a hallway where every single employee had their photo as well as their job title on the wall as a way to show appreciation for every position and person at the organization. While this was all very impressive, what really stood out happened during our tour of the facility given by Rick Peak.  As we went through the plant,  it became very obvious that Rick was fully engaged with all employees.  When he walked into the room the employees would be excited to see him and he was excited to see them.  There was no mumbling and grumbling about a manager walking towards them, only high fives, fist bumps, inside jokes, and genuine gladness.  It’s not surprising that Tempur-Sealy has an incredibly low turnover rate.


Dale Carnegie Training, http://www.dalecarnegie.com