WVLO: 5 tips to make employees agile

Photo: Clara Bloemhof

My company is ready for the next step, but I can’t get my employees on board. I feel a distance between management and production. Each and every one of these problems can be solved with agile crafting. WVLO held a masterclass from which we filtered 5 tips.

This article previously appeared on Bakery Sweets Center

Agile professionals are committed professionals. They adapt to the development of a company. They want to learn and develop. Regardless of whether they have been employed in a company for 1, 10 or 30 years. WVLO stands for Agile craftsmanship in learning organizations. A project that bears fruit in the Nordic region. Various companies have participated in pilot projects related to wvlo in recent years. Partners from Vitens, Friesland Campina and Bakery Sweets Center shared their experiences during the WVLO masterclass on June 30, organized at Bowinn in Dokkum. It turns out that all companies in all sectors have to deal with the same problems. The 5 best tips to help your employees – and yourself! – to be flexible.

1. Put a young employee next to an experienced, older employee

The aging wave is clearly visible in the food industry, but also in technical companies. Many people retire after decades of loyal service. Much knowledge is lost in this. During the pilot, Vitens decided to connect young employees with the older guard. What a good transfer of knowledge. As it turns out: The older employee felt known in his experience and enjoyed sharing his knowledge. Conversely, the younger employee came up with questions that challenged his almost retired colleague at the end of his career to think and work differently. It ensured mutual respect, enthusiasm and retention of knowledge in Vitens.

2. Implement WVLO? Start small

Agile craftsmanship does not have to be the solution for all departments at the same time. If you want to start a project within WVLO, start with a small club. Look for a department with employees who are open to a learning path, who are open to change. If successful, you can expand it to other departments.

3. Give employees ownership

A new employee spends his first day at the factory, and the protocols and manuals immediately make him dizzy. Too dry material, too thick books – couldn’t it be easier? Many people think visually. Show them what to do and they’ll pick it up faster. Leave it to the experienced staff. They know the equipment and work inside out. Friesland Campina decided to let employees create their own manual using Google Glass. With their own visuals, employees explain to new colleagues what the actions are. They feel involved and known. And new employees have never been trained so quickly.

4. Drop “we” and “them”

Some team leaders will recognize that. us and them feeling. As a team leader or facility manager, you are between the organizational layers. You speak the employees’ language on the shop floor and you give feedback to the management. Sometimes it hurts. You will look after the interests of ‘your people’, but you are responsible for achieving KPIs. But KPIs must be achievable and realistic. And with today’s labor shortage, that’s not always the case. Some leaders feel trapped. The only way to solve this is to make employees aware of their contribution to the whole. And to show the management that the employees are already 100% engaged. Creating mutual understanding means less us-them.

5. Bosses: Show Yourself! (and don’t say: ‘Good job’, but ask questions)

Agile craftsmanship comes from both sides. As management, you can support the vision of agile craftsmanship. You naturally want your employees to adapt flexibly to the development of a company. But also remember that this vision must be repeated throughout the company. That team leaders, leadership and management also demonstrate that there is less hierarchy and more equality. So the threshold for employees to come to you with tips and solutions is lower. You can only achieve this by being there. Physically, in the workplace. From logistics to distribution and from packaging to production: it is appreciated if you regularly show your face. Tip: Don’t just walk around patting yourself on the back, ask questions. Keep an open mind. This is guaranteed to generate more appreciation over and over again. And ensures motivated employees.

Read more about the success factor toolkit that WVLO developed after researching various pilot projects:
WVLO presents toolkit with success factors for agile crafting

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