The Gemba Walk is a popular Lean technique where managers walk through the worksite, engaging with employees and observing the work first hand. However, a Gemba walk is much more than just strolling through your facility. It is a targeted effort to observe waste, engage with employees and assess standards.
Here are 5 Tips for Improving Your Gemba Walks
1. Don’t talk about the weather. Use this as an opportunity to connect
Get to know your employees; do they have kids? What are their hobbies and interests? Ask them what they did with their weekend, and build a connection with your team. This is also a great opportunity to discover underutilized talents (see our videos on underutilized talents here)
2. Give Employees the Chance to Problem Solve
Remember, a Gemba walk is more than just an intelligence-gathering trip for you, it is a potential learning experience for the employee. When you ask them why something does or does not work, let them figure out the solution. As managers, we often want to jump right in and solve the problem. However, by empowering your employees to tackle their own challenges, they become more skilled at finding and eliminating waste.
3. Imagine Yourself as a Tourist
Speaking of Waste, we tend to become blind to some of our own deficiencies as time goes by. During your Gemba walk, put yourself in the role of a tourist in your own facility. Ask all the obvious questions: “Why is that there? What does that machine do? What is that big pile of stuff in the corner?” The answers you get might surprise you and open your eyes to previously unseen waste.
4. Schedule Your Gemba Walk
This is not a surprise inspection, and by informing your team that you will be on the floor, you can reduce their fear and focus their efforts on self-improvement. This is an opportunity for you and your employees to learn from each other. By scheduling your Gemba walk, you can help create a culture of engagement.
5. Ask Questions
A manager must understand what is occurring at their facility, but that does not mean always remembering every single detail. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Your team is there to help you just as you are there to help them. If they can help you understand a process, you can bring that understanding into the decision-making process. Never fear looking foolish, we are all life-long learners.
With these simple tips, you can improve the efficiency of your Gemba walk. To get more insight on how to improve your Lean efforts, visit our course page.