“If you want me to learn something, show me where I can use it.”

Perhaps you’ve heard this statement in your line of work, but more often than not, it goes unsaid. The majority of today’s employees struggle to engage with their jobs because they struggle to see the big picture of your organization’s process and how their daily tasks impact your bottom line. Reports also show employees struggle to communicate with leaders and co-workers, creating a disjointed team filled with unengaged employees. Coupling Soft Skills training with lean concepts can help your employees master the soft skills they need to be a highly valued team player who understands what the organization needs to function efficiently.

The first step to developing a healthier organization is to begin building solid Problem-Solving actions into your processes. Our team has identified the following three basic categories employees can use to categorize their problem solving efforts. Your team can be trained to evaluate:

  1. Abnormalities: Results that don’t match planned or specified requirements,
  2. Continuous Improvements: Any action that improves Quality, reduces Cost or shortens Delivery times (QCD), i.e., enhances Competitive Advantages of organizations, groups &/or people, and
  3. Missing Information: Information needed to support decision making processes.

Successful problem solving actions directly require improved skills in communications and cooperation/teamwork. As your employees become better at problem solving, they will naturally become better at working within your team and organizational processes. A healthy respect for your existing leaders and organizational structure goes a long way to increasing productivity.

While training technical school students on the career benefits of learning about lean concepts, we found an essay by Dr. Jim Womack – Respect for People – that helps us rethink how we show respect and includes an in-depth exploration of how respect is integral to problem solving.

To increase the problem solving capacity of your employees we recommend using the demonstrated, simple, and effective four-step Training with Industries approach. This same approach helped us win WWII and is easily adaptable to current Education Protocols. It can also be highly effective in winning the battle against poor soft skills in the workforce.

Soft Skills training, including problem solving mastery, involves teaching qualitative skills. To measure the impact of your efforts we recommend using the qualitative Total Quality Management (TQM) plan. The TQM plan includes 8 qualitative criteria to develop an individual success plan for each employee. Each criteria requires individual creative and critical thinking skills. For example, in the Customer focus area, the customer determines level of quality demanded in your industry and the and the organization determines how to live up to that standard. Each employee’s standards of excellence are then shaped by the customer, the industry, the expectations of the organization’s leadership, and their personal desire to serve with excellence thus requiring a unique success plan for each employee.