The idea of wasting employee talent came late to the deadly wastes. In the original Japanese version, there were 7 muda. It wasn’t until the methodology was brought into American factories that “Talent” was added. Our employees are our single greatest and most wasted asset. When an employee bites their tongue about an idea, refuses to think for themselves or spreads rumors, the loss can’t be measured as easily as a defective product or part that needs repair. But as any manager, who has taken employee engagement seriously will tell you, the benefits of your staff caring more about their company are massive.
How often have you paid for an external “expert”, who had very little experience with your business, to advise you
on how to run your business? Chances are that whatever idea that expert had, your employees had that same idea a while ago, but were either never asked or didn’t feel empowered enough to speak up about it.
Continuous Improvement is about ripping down silos and making your company open to new ideas and empowering all employees to think of ways to make the processes in their work day more efficient. This is easier said than done and often requires a fundamental shift in how management interacts with employees on a daily level.
Empowering is not about making fancy policy. It’s about relationships that are built with consistent interaction and involvement with employees. You can’t tackle wasted talent from the executive suite. It needs to be done in hallways and break rooms and workspaces, and it needs to be consistent.
When an employee comes to you with an idea, it’s your job to make that person feel that coming to you was the right choice. If you don’t like the idea, take the time to tell him or her why instead of dismissing it and walking away. This is a huge disincentive to an employee who genuinely wants to help the business succeed.
Finding a Balance
When we hire someone, it’s usually to fill a certain gap in the company, either because someone else has left or expansion demands it. Once people fill the gaps they were hired for, we’re often reluctant to offer them opportunities that would allow to them to grow beyond that gap. It makes sense to build company structures that employees need to fit into, but it’s also important to balance structure with individuals’ potential capacity to grow beyond their roles. Stagnation in a role can often lead to attitude and morale problems.
Employees that are over or under qualified for their jobs is a key cause of talent waste. Being under-qualified (i.e. being thrown in over your head) can lead quickly to feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and potentially could cause expensive defects.Being overqualified for a job has the obvious waste of paying too much in salary than the job is actually worth. Often highly paid staff will be reluctant to delegate jobs they’ve “always done” even as they grow beyond them.