I'll never ever forget this one experience at a previous employer of mine. I had been promoted to a new role in a new department. I was in the job less than a week and showed up at the weekly Friday staff meeting with eight team members. My boss said to me, "David, please pass out the production report so we can review the numbers". I looked up in confusion not realizing it was my responsibility. He looked around the table at the rest of the group and slammed his fists on the table and told me to go get the report and that they'd wait. To say the least, it was quite uncomfortable. I told him I had no idea that I was supposed to bring such a report nor did I know where to get it or whether it would even be current. He stood up, dismissed the meeting but not before denouncing my lack of effort and deflating his entire team as well as his new staff member. Yeah, I'm not making this up.
We all know treating anyone that way is just wrong on so many levels. It's a Management 101 No-No. This example is a little extreme for the point I'm trying to make but there's a lesson to be learned here with regards to your 5S program.
More often than not, if a 5S program is not succeeding then what's missing is the lack of setting clear expectations. That's exactly what my boss did in the story (along with a lot of other bad stuff). How can you expect people to do you what you want if you haven't  made it clear. Unfortunately, I've often heard "they should just know what to do".  Well, that's just silly and honestly unfair to that employee. I had no idea what was expected of me and as a result I could not succeed. If you want people to do something it only makes sense to make sure they know what you want in the first place.
Some examples with regards to setting clear expectations within your 5S program is to make sure audits aren't done in a vacuum. All too often, the auditor goes around, makes notes, posts the results and walks away expecting improvements to be made. What a wasted opportunity. Among other things audits should be used to set the standard on what's expected. What's expected shouldn't just be the audit score. What's expected needs to be clearly defined and discussed and dare I say even adjusted with input from the team. 

Another example would be with regards to color coding. Set clear standards on what color's should be used for which material type. I was in one plant where the manager thought yellow floor tape should be used for material but noticed someone used blue. Turned out, they had no color standards to be found. He said to me that everyone knows we use yellow for materials and was surprised the person used blue. Really? I suggested he set the standard by posting the color coding scheme throughout the plant and communicating it to everyone.

In summary, if you want your team to succeed at anything make sure they know  exactly what it is you expect of them. It's a sure way of improving the  results and sustainability of any program while improving morale too.

Do you have any suggestions on what you think is the # 1 missing ingredient in an unsuccessful 5S initiative? If so, reply to this email. I'll collect everyone's input and share it in  an upcoming newsletter.

Thank you,

David Visco President/5S Expert The 5S Store www.the5sstore.com (978)842-4610

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