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Employee Performance Management at Odds with Lean?

Posted By Jeff Moad, July 17, 2012 at 4:35 PM, in Category: Next-Generation Leadership and the Changing Workforce

Although manufacturers continue to invest in lean transformation, many have not yet aligned their employee performance management systems and standards with the goals and outcomes of their lean initiatives.

That's one of the more interesting indications of a survey of 378 organizations recently conducted by the University of Kentucky.

While 58% of survey respondents said the results of their companies' lean initiatives have met or exceeded expectations, significant pluralities said processes for hiring, evaluating, and rewarding employees do not yet factor in their contributions to lean transformation.

Asked, for example, if their companies' incentives program encourages employees to vigorously pursue lean objectives, 44.8% said not really, while only 15.5 answered with a strong "yes". Similarly 41% of respondents said performance on lean initiatives was not a signficant part of the employee performance appraisal process, while 12.1% agreed strongly that it was.

Nor do many employers seem to look for lean-savvy workers when hiring. Forty-two percent of respondents disagreed with the statement that their companies "select employees who can provide ideas to improve the lean transformation process." Only 13% strongly agreed with that statement.

Such a lack of alignment between employee performance management processes and lean may account for the impression among many that their companies have not yet developed a lean culture. Asked to agree or disagree with the phrase, "We have successfully developed a lean culture at the company," 29.1% strongly disagreed, while 11.9% agreed.

Have your company's processes for evaluating and rewarding employee performance changed to support lean transformation? If so, how? Is it possible to achieve lean culture without changing the way you evaluate and reward employees?

Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit


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