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How to Help Your Millennial Employees Flourish and Succeed

Many assumptions have been made about millennials in the workplace however, Thrive believes with small tweaks to your approach in leadership, you can help millennials flourish in your business. Follow these suggestions and watch your younger team members come to life in the workplace:

  • Listen to their ideas

Millennials often feel like their ideas aren’t taken seriously simply because of their age—and in many cases, they’re right. The age bias is a real concern when there are various generations working together on one team.This generation is well-versed in modern technology and is known for being creative with their approach to challenges. If you encourage them to speak up and show that you value their opinions, you’re more likely to harness their unique skill set. Keep an open mind when you have conversations with your millennial employees. You never know when you may learn about a new piece of technology that could make doing your job a little easier or an out-of-the-box solution that might boost your revenues.

  • Set up lunch dates

Sometimes the reason why older and younger people struggle to connect is because they haven’t found common ground. Encourage millennials and other workers to get to know each other by creating a program that pairs younger/older team members and have them go to lunch together. For example, two people may both love golf. Once they get to talking about their strokes and favorite courses to play, they’ll have an easier time talking about work-related matters

  • Let the slang slide

Sometimes, what feels like a slang word to you may actually be an emerging linguistic trend. Instead of dismissing the way millennial employees may speak, try seeing it from a different perspective. The best way to learn how to communicate with your fellow team members is to engage with them on a daily basis. If there’s a term you don’t understand, don’t feel ashamed to ask for clarification. Who knows, you might actually like it and come to use it yourself! Or, if you serve millennials, you can use this new lingo to improve your customer relations.

  • Give them work that matters

Perhaps even more so than other generations, millennials like to feel that the work they’re doing is making a difference. This can be a difference in your business reaching its goals or a difference in your customers’ lives. No matter what, millennials want and need to feel like a valued part of your team.

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Tips On How To Make Your Team Work Better

“Collaboration” has become abuzzword in the modern business world. To make collaboration technologies work for your business, you first need to show your team how to work well together. Thrive believes these six suggestionswillhelp encourage an open, cooperative workplace:

Make Your Team Work Better with collaboration

  • Set team goals. Use timelines, plans and structured content that clearly define current and future goals for the team. This way, all team members can share a distinct point of view.
  • Foster a creative environment. Allow team members to brainstorm in an open, non-judgmental framework that embraces the team’s diversity.
  • Build cohesion. Create a means of communicating that allows for easy workflow, establishes a distinct set of priorities and makes all colleagues feel included. Keeping everyone on the same playbook enables team members to focus and flourish.
  • Visualize ideas. Provide team members the opportunity to use visuals to clarify and share their ideas at the simplest level. You can do this with anything from rough sketches to full-scale presentations.
  • Break down barriers. Using multiple channels of communication such as email, phone and text messaging can ultimately create barriers to successful collaboration. Agree upon and enlist just one channel that allows the team to communicate efficiently and effectively.

Execute. With all of the focus on idea creation, don’t forget the most important step: acting on the good ones. Nothing will diminish employees’ desire to create new ideas faster than failure to implement existing proposals.

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Workforce Diversity Is Beneficial To Small Business Success

In the current era of economic globalization, diversity within a business can have a positive impact. As a result, many companies are working towards creating a more diverse workforce. Thrive has identified these ways diversity can be beneficial to your business’ success:

Productivity:  A diverse workforce can benefit a small business in many ways, including the productivity of the workforce. Each employee will bring his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses, and this helps create a diverse mix of skills, strengths, and weaknesses. And when employees teach their skills to other employees, this in turn, increases each employee’s skill-set.

Positive business reputation: For a business to succeed, its reputation must be positive and strong. Since diversity is a key to success in a modern-day environment, having a diverse small business can aid future employees to choose your business, and for future customers or clients to favor your company over others. The likelihood of positive “word of mouth” between customers is more likely if your company has a positive reputation and brand image.

Higher Morale: Giving employees the opportunity to work with people that bring different skills and views to the table helps them recognize that everyone is important for different reasons. When diversity is managed well and employees are subject to cross-cultural diversity and inclusion training, the result is that all people feel validated and considered important no matter their differences. Feeling valued improves the morale of each worker and promotes positivity in the workplace.

Global Impact: In an increasingly globalized world economy, workforces that are culturally diverse can help companies expand their business in worldwide markets. Being able to communicate effectively in different parts of the world is a key benefit, as well as knowing how to create relationships and understand the cultural nuances and differences in doing business in foreign countries. With a workforce that understands these concepts, you create the opportunity to effectively develop your business in a global market.

Community Relations: With a trend towards diversification, many communities are becoming increasingly culturally diverse. It is important that companies recognize this and mimic the communities that they serve. For example, companies need to be able to communicate effectively with customers and understand their needs, no matter the customer’s language or culture. Having people on staff who have the background and skills to do so are vital to an organization. Communities and customers also prefer to engage with companies that employ people that are similar to them.  For this reason, hiring and managing employees with diverse cultures is an advantage in a competitive market space.

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Downtime Reduction through Process Optimization

Downtime Reduction has been the long-term goal of all the manufacturing units. However, it remains a distant dream for many. Six Sigma processes and Lean Manufacturing have been the most widely adopted methods. Yet, many manufacturing units fail to achieve a good OEE score. Several factors contribute to this problem. The focus must be laid on bringing efficiency in the manufacturing process. Process optimization is the first step in this direction.

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Process optimization requires the adoption of various steps. Plant managers must do rigorous monitoring of the plant and machinery. They must unify the quality data access and ensure better tracking and reporting of the problems. This will ensure quick remedial action. The key word in process optimization here is better monitoring of the processes. A better understanding of the machine performance will help in avoidance of sudden surprises in form of manufacturing downtime.

Some of the factors which will help in process optimization are:

Capture Quality Data Across the Unit

Knowledge is power. It helps in making informed decisions and takes preventive measures. The biggest reason for most of the unplanned downtimes is a failure to get accurate data. The manufacturing units work as one entity but the various processes within the unit work separately. It is important that the data of these processes is accessible at one point. This helps in taking preventive steps in case the point of problems fails to recognize the issues. Downtime tracking mechanisms help in gathering the data at one point. It makes optimization of the process easy. The control unit can recognize the need for preventive mechanism even if the machine operator fails to recognize it. This central mechanism can initiate planned maintenance to reduce manufacturing downtime. It will make the process smooth and help in running it optimally. The important thing is to figure out the problem before it blows out of proportion.

Improve Process Evaluation by Understanding the Machines 

The biggest problem of the riddle is to understand the machines. Continuous work, overload and ignoring the maintenance breaks lead to problems. They can be avoided if the process evaluation is carried out from time to time. This will help in understanding the machine and avoiding surprises. A better understanding of the machines facilitates Manufacturing Process Optimization. Sudden failures can be avoided and the process can be made smooth.
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Performance

Optimal performance of the machines is crucial for optimizing the process. Frequent machine failures and unplanned breakdowns lead to inefficiency. You can avoid these problems by monitoring the performance of the machines. If any machine is facing frequent breakdowns then you need to get down to the root of the problem. Low performance of even a single unit in the assembly will drag down the performance of the dependent processes. Machine tracking can help you in understanding this important indicator. It gives you historical assessment of the performance of the individual processes.

Accelerate Data Analysis

The faster you gather and analyze the data the sooner proactive steps can be taken. It is a crucial part of process optimization. Downtime tracking gives you instant access to the machine data. It also gives you specific analysis of the problems. The area facing the issue or needing maintenance breaks also get highlighted. You are able to understand the need for maintenance better and schedule it accordingly. This will help you in running the processes much smoothly where other processes don’t get affected by any other machine’s breakdown.

Minimize Maintenance Disruptions

Maintenance is a crucial part of running a plant smoothly. It can get undermined when a plant is running at full capacity. This can lead to problems ahead. Ignoring the maintenance schedules and overusing the machines can lead to bigger failures. It must be avoided in all circumstances. Planned maintenance is a part of process optimization and it helps in avoiding unplanned downtimes.

Unify Quality Data Access

Leaving the analysis of cause and problems on the individual units can prove to be a big challenge in the way of process optimization. Mistakes may get overlooked and problems may be ignored under pressure situations. This can spell a lot of problems where there may be a complete breakdown of the system. Access to quality data must be unified. This helps in maintaining the check and balance of the system. Even if a problem gets ignored at one point it will get noticed at another. This will give a great boost to process optimization and help in minimizing downtime. The process can be run smoothly and without disruptions. If there is no unified access to the quality data then you will have to depend upon the reporting of the individual machine operators. This may delay action and lead to undue stops. Downtime monitoring gives you real-time access to the quality data. You are always in the loop and in a better position to make an informed decision when there is still time to do so. You can also take proactive steps through preventive maintenance to avoid the problems or reduce the reaction time.

Better Tracking and Reporting

Better tracking and reporting of the problems is the key to process optimization. It always keeps you in the driver’s seat. You have better control over the flow of the process and you can take steps to make it better without the fear of many unpleasant surprises. Downtime Tracking software programs help you by efficiently tracking and reporting issues. You have better access to the key parameters in form of color-coded signals so that you can easily identify the urgency. The data is available to you in real time. This solves the biggest part of the equation for you.

You can reduce your downtime by process optimization. When the process is moving smoothly there are very few chances of disruptions. Problems can be handled easily and effectively. Downtimes can prove to be a drag on the resources and put a lot of strain on other dependent processes. They must be avoided at all costs.

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Ways to Delegate Effectively

Whether you’re a team leader, an entrepreneur, or in a position of authority, delegation is going to be a major key to maximizing your productivity and keeping yourself sane during tight deadlines or large workloads. Delegating tasks is a skill thatcan be learned and improved on over time. Thrive believes if you put these delegation strategies into practice, you can watch your organization’s efficiency increase:

  • Learn to let go. The biggest problem most leaders face is the inability to let go of their own work. Sometimes they feel so dedicated to completing their own work that they refuse to let other people help. Other times, they fear that nobody else has the skills or abilities necessary to execute the work effectively.Whatever the case may be, your first priority needs to be to learn to let go. Start small, delegating only the smallest tasks, and gradually work your way up. Get to know your team better and improve the trust among you and your co-workers. Take baby steps and know that eventually you will have to let go of your work if you want your team to be successful.
  • Always include instructions. Even if the task process seems obvious to you, make sure to include instructions with each task you delegate. If you have specific preferences for how the assignment will be carried out, include that information. If you have a strict deadline or milestones you need to hit, be clear about them.Including details and straightforward instructions from the get-go will avoid most communication gaps and will allow your tasks to be executed effectively. It’s a proactive strategy that both you and your employees will appreciate.
  • Don’t be afraid to teach new skills. Lacking someone on your team with the ability to execute a certain task on your to-do list doesn’t mean the work can’t be delegated. Most skills can be learned–some more easily than others–so don’t be afraid to teach as a part of the delegation process.Though the assignment of your first few tasks will take more time than it will save you (since you’ll need to train your chosen employee), consider it an investment. By transferring those skills, you’ll be opening the door to assigning all similar tasks to that individual in the future, ultimately saving more time than you spent teaching.
  • Trust, but verify. Once a task is delegated, trust your teammate to execute it on his or her own terms. This will allow the person to tackle the work the way they feel is best. However, don’t be afraid to occasionally step in and verify that the task is moving along as planned. For example, if you made an assignment a week ago that’s due tomorrow, trust that your employee is on top of things, but send a quick verification email to make sure the person hasn’t hit any snags.Doing so encourages more trust and respect within your team and helps prevent breaks in communication or understanding.
  • Use feedback loops to improve delegation moving forward. Feedback is the most important part of the delegation process, and it works both ways. If your workers have done well with a task you assigned, let them know by publicly thanking them and offering genuine praise. If they’ve fallen short, don’t be afraid to give them some constructive criticism. In addition, be sure to invite your coworkers to share their thoughts on how you’re delegating–it’s a critical chance for you to determine whether you’re providing enough information, or whether you’re assigning the right tasks to the right people.

Delegating isn’t always easy, and the process isn’t always clear cut, but the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll develop the expertise to do it effectively.

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How Following Lean Principles Can Improve Business

The Lean manufacturing principles can be broken down into five main principles: value, value streams, flow, pull, and perfection. Here is some insight into each of the main principles:

Principles of Lean ManufacturingThe Lean approach begins with a detailed understanding of what value the customer assigns to product and services. Establishing value allows organizations to create a top-down target price. Your organization focuses on eliminating waste so that they can deliver the value the customer expects at the highest level of profitability.

The value stream is the product’s entire life-cycle from the raw materials through to the customer’s use of, and eventual disposal of, the product. In order to eliminate waste, the ultimate goal of Lean, there must be an accurate and complete understanding of the value stream. Processes are examined to determine what value is added. Steps, materials, features, and movement that do not add value are eliminated.

Understanding flow is essential to the elimination of waste. If the value stream stops moving forward at any point, waste is the inevitable by-product. The lean manufacturing principle of flow is about creating a value chain with no interruption in the production process and a state where each activity is fully in step with every other.

The lean principle of pull helps ensure flow by making sure that nothing is made ahead of time, building up work-in-process inventory and stopping the synchronized flow. Rather than using the traditional American manufacturing approach of pushing work through based on a forecast and schedule, the pull approach dictates that nothing is made until the customer orders it. This requires a great deal of flexibility and short design to delivery cycle times. It also requires an efficient way of communicating what is needed to each step in the value chain.

Lean practitioners strive to achieve nothing short of perfection. The march toward perfect process happens step by step as continuous improvements address root causes of quality problems and production waste. The relentless pursuit of perfection is what drives users of the approach to dig deeper, measure more, and change more often than their competitors.

As organizations begin to accurately specify value, identify the entire value stream, make the value-creating steps for specific products flow continuously and let customers pull value from the enterprise, something very odd begins to happen. It dawns on those involved that there is no end in the process of reducing downtime, effort, time, space, cost and mistakes while offering a product which is ever more nearly what the customer actually wants. Suddenly perfection, the fifth and final principle of lean thinking, doesn’t seem like a crazy idea.

These ideas form the foundation of the Lean approach that has transformed countless corporations, giving them a leg up on the competition and a clear path to both profitability and delighted customers. Let Thrive make sure that your company is heading in the right direction.

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How to Build and Organize Your Workflow

If you have never undertaken the process of creating a workflow from start to finish, it may feel like a complicated process. While building a workflow can take time (especially when it comes to planning, processes, and testing) it isn’t as daunting as it seems if you know what you’re doing. The key is in knowing how to start and Thrive can help you identify an appropriate workflow for an effective process.

Workflow managementBuilding a workflow for a single project is not the same as creating a workflow for a business process, which is why it’s important to understand the difference.In order to build a project workflow, you would generally need to group a series of one-off tasks in order to accomplish a goal. This might include:

  • Identifying the ultimate outcome
  • Creating a series of steps involved to reach the outcome
  • Listing any one-off tasks and documents involved in each step
  • Identifying the order that each task needs to occur in
  • Assigning tasks to a person, if necessary (some tasks may be automated)
  • Setting a duration for each task and step

Projects are often completed using project management strategies and software. Project management involves the initiation, planning, design, execution, monitoring, control, and closing of a team’s specific goal, usually involving a certain set of criteria that needs to be met.The biggest difference between project management and process management is that project management has a temporary, constrained scope, quality, budget, and timeframe.

Creating a workflow for a process, on the other hand, involves defining processes that need to be managed throughout the organization, which may include repeatable projects and grouped tasks. It also requires visualizing, measuring, controlling, reporting, and, improving that process over time, with the goal to increase productivity and/or decrease costs.

While both are somewhat different, both project and process workflows can be organized in similar ways, using visual flowcharts and diagrams to document each stage, step and task.

Step 1: Name your workflow. The name should help you identify your ultimate outcome, but don’t worry too much about this, as you can change it later.

Step 2: Identify start and end points. What events or tasks will trigger the process to start? How will you know when your outcome has been reached?

Step 3: Identify what is needed to perform the process. What tasks, documents, and actual materials (automation software, programs, etc.) are needed to complete the process?

Step 4: List any tasks and activities. What needs to be done to accomplish your outcome?

Step 5: Identify the order tasks should be accomplished. Should certain tasks be finished before others can be started? Or can certain tasks be accomplished at the same time?

Step 6: Identify roles. Who will be involved in what tasks or activities? Some tasks may involve simple automation tools and no human approval, while others will need a review and sign off. Identify who is responsible for which task and process in your workflow.

Step 7: Review and finalize. After you’ve set everything up, you will want to test your workflow and review it to ensure that all processes are efficient and achievable and that everything accomplishes what it needs to accomplish. Don’t forget to test your systems to make sure there are no hiccups throughout the process.

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The Importance of Continuous Quality Improvement

The Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) is a quality management process that encourages all team members to continuously ask the questions, “How are we doing?” and “Can we do it better?” Here are a few ways that Thrive believes your company can benefit from CQI awareness:

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It is Empowering

When you invite people at every level of the organization to get involved in daily improvement and take control over the processes that they operate, something remarkable happens. People begin to feel a certain pride of ownership. They start to care more about their workspaces and the quality of their deliverables. They ask questions and learn to avoid making assumptions. Suddenly you see people engaging in what’s known as “discretionary effort.” That’s what happens when people go beyond what is expected of them and do something more voluntarily. That alone has the power to transform organizations.

It Starts from a Place of Optimism

The very fundamental premise of continuous process improvement is, “It can be better.” That’s a pretty positive outlook from our point of view. Sure, problems will pop up and it often takes a lot of effort to replace the old way of doing things with something new, but if you believe in the power of positive change there isn’t much you can’t overcome.

It’s a Way of Life, Not an Event

Continuous improvement isn’t a one-time thing; it is something that can and should happen every single day. No process can ever be considered completely improved. When one cycle of change is finished, that means the next can begin.

It’s Educational

When people start practicing continuous process improvement, they get much better at choosing the right tool for the job. They become willing to experiment with different approaches and learn what works best under which circumstances. In short, practicing continuous process improvement makes people smarter. What’s not to love about that?