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What If You Had to Sign the Other Side of the Check?

Most people are accustomed to signing the back side of their paycheck.

The question I’d ask you to consider, though, is whether you’d behave differently if you were signing the other side of the check.

Consider if you had to put your John Hancock on a check for one of the many employees you hire on a regular basis, and think if you are meeting the same standards you set for them.

  • Would you want your plumber searching through a disorganized truck for twenty minutes—on the clock—looking for a fitting?
  • Would you want your dentist shopping online or reading a news story while you were waiting in the chair with your mouth all prepped up for some dental work?
  • Would you want to pay your mechanic to take a personal call while he was working on your car’s brakes, or do you think you should get his undivided attention for your money?

The simple fact is that, for a variety of reasons, employees waste a fairly large amount of time on the job. In addition to the waste associated with poor processes, a 2007 study shows that the average employee in the US wastes up to 20% of his day—1.7 hours—chatting, surfing, and conducting personal business.

Lean helps this situation in two ways. The most obvious is that it makes the 80% of the working time more productive.

>>Look at our Identifying Waste Lean PowerPoint training to help your team get waste out of their processes.>>

But it can also help with the 20%. Some of the reasons given in the study for the waste were that…

  • The employee didn’t have enough work to do
  • The hours were too long
  • The work was not challenging enough

Each of these is also addressed in some way by Lean. It adds structure to jobs, eliminating boredom. It gets work under control, reducing the long hours. It requires the use of more of people’s brains to make improvements, increasing the challenge.

The simple fact is that we want the people who work for us in our private lives to follow Lean principles. If we go back to the Golden Rule, shouldn’t we be doing all we can to add Lean principles to our professional lives?


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