Fear of the Stop Watch

When people hear about consultants coming in to improve “efficiency,” two images often come to mind; pink slips and someone with a stop watch tracking their every movement.

Setting aside the fear of layoffs, the Stop Watch issue can be a hurdle for Lean implementers. We illustrated this fear in our Kaizen-themed comedy series, “Everybody Get Lean”.

On a serious note, how do you resolve this issue? It is absolutely essential to capture good verifiable information about how long your processes take, yet if workers are anxious about performing, this will skew the data and impede future improvement efforts.

The best solution is simple. Hand the stopwatch to the employee.

The fear stems from concerns over how the information will be used and who is capturing it. Give a little talk before taking measurements explaining the process. Reassure the employees about how this will be used and why. Help them understand they are not competing, only looking for ways to make their work easier.

Then let employees do the data capture, with training obviously. By allowing the workers to record each other, you reduce the fear that some outside influence or manager is stepping in and scrutinizing their efforts. They feel in control of the situation, allowing them to act naturally.

Being aware of employee concerns can go a long way towards reducing anxiety and overcoming barriers to Lean.

For more information on persuading resistant employees, check out our latest series, “Barriers to Lean”.

For more information about efficiency efforts with a  stopwatch, check out our series “Time and Motion Study.

January 29, 2014

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