For example, whenever the boss comes around, she seems very concerned if everyone isn't "busy". It won't take very long before everyone gets the message and makes sure that they stay busy. Probably overproducing. Maybe producing defects. As long as we stay busy. Who has time to improve? We're crazy busy!
Or, maybe people have been taught that the way to get recognized is to be really good at fire fighting. Saving the day. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Rescuing Timmy from the well. Getting the cat down out of the tree. Forget the fact that there are some process defects that put us in peril in the first place!
Another lesson people will learn very quickly is that they are NOT being paid to think. "just do your job, let me do the thinking!" Or, and just as educational, is when an employee comes up with a suggestion they think will really help, and it falls on deaf ears. Why bother? "They don't listen" or "I tried to tell THEM that 3 years ago and THEY don't listen."
What if we can change the lessons people learn from their boss?
1. Stop promoting and rewarding "crazy busy". If the company has been around for 10 years or more, can we make it look easy? Like we're not new at this and we're really good at it?
2. Can we demonstrate respect for people by not only actively listening to people's ideas, but make it our standard work to help them implement improvements? Can we work as leaders to create a culture where people know it is important to DO and IMPROVE their jobs....every single solitary day?
3. Can we make firefighting rare and seldom? When we recognize required hero-ism, can we help people work to root cause and implement countermeasures to prevent it from ever happening again?
If you consider yourself a lean company, keep in mind that what you tolerate, you teach. Are your bosses (leaders): teaching the right lessons? If not, are you tolerating it. Every single person in the organization needs to be involved, from the CEO to the new person just hired on 3rd shift. Just don't make the mistake of fixing other people's jobs.
Go to GEMBA. Demonstrate respect. And make sure all of your coaching staff is doing the same thing.