Here is an article I posted yesterday to LinkedIn: An Airline Worker’s Lament: “They Won’t Let Me Help You.“
On LinkedIn, I’m writing for a more general business audience than I am here on LeanBlog.org. In the situation at the ticket counter, it seemed like a situation where a worker wanted to help the customers (the passengers), but wasn’t allowed to. She said she wanted to help but said “They [management] won’t let me help you. It’s not my job. They only give us this one little job and we can just tag bags.”
I don’t blame the woman for staying within her job boundaries. But, there’s such waste that comes from not cross-training people to their full ability (and full interest).
The old Taylorist system aimed to break down jobs into small, easily-trainable chunks of work, thereby making the workers easily replaceable. This feeds into the mindset of a command-and-control manager in that they are the boss and they are powerful. Do as I say, or you’ll be fired!
In comparison, a Lean culture cross trains people… building their skills (and their value to the organization) and often increasing their pay accordingly (instead of chasing cheap labor, as many big companies do).
What cross training opportunities do you have in your organization? What can you do in 2014 to break down silos between jobs so that your employees can work as a team for the benefit of patients or customers?
Feel free to add your comments at LinkedIn or comment below on this post.
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About LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as the new Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Innovation and Improvement Services for KaiNexus.