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In some ways, quality and productivity are a lot like the weather, few people have clear answers when it comes to doing something about it. What seems to be the problem? While the consensus is that something has to be done, producing the desired result isn't that easy. Nonetheless, it has always been the supervisor's job to increase efficiency, and in these times, this role is taking on greater importance. Where should you begin to boost your department's effectiveness? These steps may form the framework for success:
- Understand where you stand.
Before you attempt to improve productivity, you have to know the performance areas in which improvement is most needed. Without a clear picture of present levels of activity, attempts at improvement are haphazard at best. How do you find where you are? The answer is to make a systematic analysis of the work being done before you launch any attempt to improve it.
- Make the connection.
High production must be joined with quality; but quality consciousness can only be raised in your workers if you show them that quality is important to your organization. Everything you do, everything you say, should show your employees that you care about quality. If you show people that you do care, if you train them to value quality themselves and if you praise them when they do, chances are your department will achieve the productivity-quality balance every supervisor is looking for.
- Involve workers.
The most effective improvements come from working smarter, not harder. This means working safer so that avoidable accidents don't draw off productive capacity. It also means getting the job done right and on time. After all, producing the right quality isn't going to mean much if you fail to deliver the product when it's needed.
Each of these points requires involvement on the part of workers . . . and this is why so many supervisors are looking for ways to include workers in the productivity process. From work simplification teams to creative thinking groups, more and more companies are trying to use worker expertise. What do workers think of these programs? On the whole, they are enthusiastic because it makes their jobs more interesting and meaningful. This, in turn, motivates them to higher productivity and quality.