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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?

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How to Get More Out of Meetings and Huddle Boards

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Daily meetings and huddle boards are popular continuous improvement techniques. The purpose of the huddle board is to provide a method of visual management and involve all employees in the effort to create positive change.Here are the top three tips for successful huddle boards and meetings:

Don’t Jump at Solutions

Daily huddles are great for checking in on improvement work, but one mistake is that teams assume that decisions on how to address opportunities for improvement should be made during the huddle. This can result in prescribing solutions to problems without the proper due diligence needed to understand the root cause. Instead, the huddle meeting should be used to assign ownership and report progress.

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Business’ True North

Huddle boards and meetings are where the rubber meets the road in terms of continuous improvement. Employees can get the opportunity to discuss the challenges of the day, which is critical for improvement culture. However, it is very easy for staff to focus on issues that are problematic for them at the moment, but not necessarily aligned with the strategic objectives of the organization. When resources and time are limited and priorities must be established, it is important to align them with the organization’s goals.

Make Your Huddle Boards Digital  

Physical huddle boards have some limitations. They make it difficult for remote or traveling team members to participate in huddle meetings and improvement work. There is no way to roll them up in a way that makes it easy for executive leadership to track the health of improvement throughout the organization. In addition, due to space limits, once an improvement is complete, it must be removed from the board, making it difficult to learn from past work. Making the meetings or huddle boards digital will enable the company to have participation across the board and make progress easier to track.

Any attempt at continuous improvement is to be applauded and Thrive can help your company improve development!

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New Year, New Business Resolutions

2018 is here and now is the time to get your plans and ideas in place for how you’ll make the new year a successful one for your business. Here are four ideas from Thrive to get you thinking about your company’s future:

  1. Study Leadership

Leadership is an ongoing learning process. With so many different ways to lead, varied personalities entering the workforce, and evolving work habits, the way leaders effectively bring their organization forward changes constantly. In 2018, more millennials will submit applications for jobs and stake their place in the workplace. This will force leaders to continue to adapt their styles to meet the new demands, expectations, and communication styles of this emerging workforce.If you’re a leader, this is your year to shake things up, get a little uncomfortable, and learn fresh new ways to bring your organization forward.

  1. Practice Delegation

It’s the standard battle cry of management: delegate, delegate, delegate!It’s normal to want to ensure your work gets done on time and correctly; handing off responsibility to someone else makes that difficult. What if they drop the ball? What if the quality isn’t up to par? What if something goes wrong?

Delegation isn’t a choice—it’s mandatory these days. With work piling up on your desk and new projects on the horizon, it’s critical that you step into the new year with a new mindset about asking for help. Talk to your team about your expectations so you can delegate more and in turn produce more this year.

  1. Make Faster Decisions

What decisions have you been sitting on this year? What have you put off doing or deciding on because you’re just not sure of the right approach?Making decisions is hard work. It requires you to choose a path and forge full steam ahead. Resolve to make faster and better decisions in 2018 by giving yourself a deadline and sticking to it. Promise yourself that whatever you decide on by the due date will be the path you take.

  1. Harness Your Resources

Technology today has given us the gift of having resources for just about everything. Have you put these apps and programs to full use yet? Harness your resources by using programs available to you. For example, work faster on payroll by finally investing in more efficient payroll software. Or, spend less time on scheduling by finally implementing a new online scheduling app. The technology is there to make your life easier and Thrive can help implement!

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Change the Way People Work

Transcription

Ron Heiskell, President of ReducedEffort, addresses his biggest challenge in reducing changeover downtime – changing the way people work. Operators grow accustom to the way they’ve been trained and so implementing a new process may be difficult. To avoid paradigm paralysis, Ron suggests videotaping the changeover and having the changeover operators watch the video. By doing this the operators will begin to see different ways they can work if they focus on reducing their efforts. In addition, by changing the way people think about their work and give them a different vantage point to view the process, the way they work will automatically change.

Is your company looking for ways to reduce changeover downtime? If so, please visit: https://www.downtimecollectionsolutions.com/

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Increase Profit Margins: Tips for Small Business Owners

thrive-profitabilityEvery business wants to make a profit, and in order to withstand the test of time, a healthy profit is a necessity. But what’s the best way to increase your profit margins and boost your company’s bottom line? Is the secret cutting back on expenses or raising prices? Maybe cutting back on inventory or renegotiate supplier fees would help? Or perhaps your small business needs to amp-up its marketing plan.

increase-profit-marginWhether it’s finding the right balance between capacity and profits, implementing an innovative pricing strategy, or expanding your target markets, here at Thrive we are sure you’ll find at least one tactic among the tips below that you can implement when your company’s bottom line needs a boost. Here are some tips to increase profit margins for your small business:

  • Always focus on profitability. Pricing should never be “off the cuff.” Your small business should have a pricing structure that fully supports costs and expenses, including profits. Can you imagine a business without profitability? It is simply impossible!
  • Researching the market is essential to starting any new enterprise, but starting off by averaging what the competition charges is not a sustainable business model. A price list should be based on your business, not your competitors!
  • Take all of your expenditures (even the hidden ones, like prep and finishing) and make sure your business’ floor plan is laid out for maximum efficiency. Then, start measuring realistic production times. Take a stopwatch if you have to.
  • Crunch all the numbers, using times for typical yield based on actual production, and have a pricing structure that balances the numbers properly. One goal could be to get flat-rate pricing that covers all expenses, with the right profit built-in.
  • The main thing to keep in mind is you got into the embroidery business to make money. With a little planning and using these four tips, your shop can grow steadily and remain profitable.
  • When machines stop, so do profits. This is why there should be a variety of projects, with both low and high profit margins. Having the occasional high-volume/low-margin project intermixed with several high-profit, yet small-quantity jobs will keep your progress steady and manageable.

contact thrive todayFrom customer service to quality control, Thrive can help identify the unique approach necessary to boost your small business and your bottom line!