Lean is a great tool for driving your company forward, and more people are starting to realize this and jumping on board the train recently. However, what many don’t realize is that lean methodologies can extend in all directions related to running a company, not just in high-level business decisions. You can use lean to very efficiently guide your organization through some less important, but still critical choices, and those who properly understand the main concepts of the methodology can usually see great results in a relatively short period of time.
Finding the right people to take over critical positions is often a difficult decision, and one that can have a significant impact on the company’s operations. Many leaders struggle with this, even more experienced ones, and it’s true that it can take some time before you get the hang of doing it right. But on the bright side, this is another area where lean can prove highly useful, and can guide you towards the right decision.
Improving the Classic Process
In the end, lean will just emphasize the same things that matter in the process normally – keeping a watchful eye over your employees, paying attention to those that are showing a more progressive approach to their positions, as well as being aware of everyone’s strong sides and weaknesses.
However, when you go about this with a lean mindset, you’ll be able to make your decision in a much more structured, informed manner without having to guess on any aspect. You’ll also know how to approach the employees you believe might have a greater potential.
A Patient Approach
For example, it’s not usually a good idea to approach someone with the clear intention of grooming them for a promotion. This might throw some people off balance, while others might give you a false sense of stability when they know you’re watching more closely.
Instead, try tasking the more prospective employees with increasingly more challenging tasks to see what their limit is. Note that this is not supposed to be a “last man standing” competition – or any kind of competition at all. Rather, this should be aimed at people you’ve already decided are going to become leaders one day (if they continue to show the same approach to their jobs), and it’s supposed to give you an idea of what each person’s current limits are.
Once someone fails at their task, or performs it below your expectations, you’ll know that this is how far you can push that person in the future. This is critical knowledge when picking leaders, as you must be confident in every person’s capabilities at every stage of the process. Especially when your company gets to a point where you need to make a more critical decision that will affect its future, and you want to be sure that all people in leadership positions will be able to handle their respective loads.
Constant Examination of People’s Traits
Pay more attention to the way you conduct meetings as well. These can be an invaluable source of information for potential improvements to the company structure, as long as you deal with them in more productive way and don’t make everyone feel like in a typical corporate meeting. Get everyone more involved, show them that their opinions are valuable – this is a more general idea that extends beyond picking a leader, and will lead to significant improvements in the company’s structure overall.
Make sure that whoever you choose is completely on board with you regarding lean leadership as well. People climbing up to more responsible and demanding positions should have the full skill set necessary to at least implement lean on their own level of the organization, and it will probably take some time to build them up to that beforehand. As long as the whole organization is based on sound lean principles, the groundwork should already be there.
Picking the right leader for a lean organization doesn’t have to be a mystical experience that has you running in the dark. As long as you apply what you’ve learned from lean methodologies to the selection process itself, the right answer should become apparent pretty quickly. From there, all it takes is patience and persistence in ensuring that the person is on board with your own way of thinking, and can also bring a new approach to the table.