OK, see if you can get this one correct…..
You’re doing your daily walk around the factory or the office, and you see something that’s not right, something that’s affecting quality or wasting money. (Assuming it’s not Health and Safety ultra-urgent). What should you do?
- Have a word with the person there and then, in a nice way, showing them how the job SHOULD be done.
- Find their supervisor and let him/her know that there is an issue so they can be aware of the problem and fix it themselves, for this and future times.
- Mention it to the manager who reports to you, (let’s say they are the supervisor’s boss, although there could be layers between them and the supervisor) when you next see them.
Which one of the above?
When we discuss this on training courses the votes are usually split about equally the three ways.
I would say
- Don’t dive right in. You could be wrong, it’s not your area. And you have now become the most expensive supervisor in the world. And you are undermining the existing supervisor. And your actions only affect the one person, they won’t improve all of the other places and people where this problem could also be happening. And checking on stuff like this is not the purpose of your Management By Wandering About – you are supposed to be getting a general feel for things, assessing the people and the systems, not getting bogged down on one detail. There will ALWAYS be things you can improve, everywhere, for ever! Yes it saves money, but doing this is not the best use of your time. And finally, if you interfere in the details, people will see you as coming around to check on them, so they will hide things from you, and then your MBWA will have become pointless.
- Don’t go to the supervisor because then you’re undermining your manager, who may well have things already in hand. It shows lack of solidarity with your manager, and before long your supervisor will be using Divide and Rule on you and your manager – “Well, HE said X…”. And also you are only affecting the one supervisor and the problem might involve all of the supervisors.
- Go to your manager! Maintain the chain of command. Make a note that there is a problem, maybe with the supervisor, in which case why doesn’t the manager know about it, or why hasn’t he or she fixed it already? (And if it’s with the operator, why doesn’t the supervisor know about it, or why hasn’t he or she fixed it already?). Ask if they know about it, and then go from there. Remember that the purpose of your MBWA is to understand things and to support your manager, to be able to make the right decisions when they ask you for help. Always go to your manager, never undermine them by stamping around in the factory, fun though it is to use your knowledge and your power.
onwards and upwards!