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If you want to destroy discipline, go ahead and install foolish rules. That will make the best people break these rules for good reason. Soon it will become a culture of not sticking to rules. Read more in our previous post: Are you still managing or already leading to get better – about rules in Operations.

It’s more than logic that the opposite applies when it comes to implementing discipline and increasing motivation. How can we implement a culture for discipline and fun at work?

1. Install rules that make sense

  • “Why”: Never install a rule without enlightening the purpose
  • Clarity: If rules are simple and easy to understand they go straight to the brain.
  • By the team for the team: The best and easiest way is to set-up rules with those who later have to stick to them. This makes sure rules are aligned with reality. Those who are responsible should facilitate the process of putting up the rule.
    Nice side effects:
    – At the same time a culture for rules’ development is created (continuous improvement),
    – If the team has tailored the rules then they will take them seriously.
  • Allow pilot testing the rule: Nothing is perfect from the beginning. So, set-up for pilot testing the rule and for adapting it.

2. Any rule needs a guard
Of course, it’s not sufficient to just have the rules. If you have a culture which is discipline-less, just having good rules won’t lead to behavioral change. People will fall back and break the rule whenever it’s urgent, more comfortable or just less boring to do so. They are used to act according to their personal judgement. That’s why we have to make sure rules are actually being followed. There must be a guard who can be a team leader, a group leader or machine leader, whose task it is, to point out when a rule is not being followed. Important: The role of the “guard” must be assigned when setting-up the rule.

3. Great Leadership: The external force
We tend to forget that this guard person wishes to hang out with colleagues on coffee breaks. That is why a leadership from above is required so the guards have an external force to do their job. Everybody involved should know that not-sticking-to the rule will lead to trouble with the responsible leader. It’s even more important that the responsible guard asks everybody involved whether effective work is supported by the rules: „Is it easy to work with the rule XY or do you have ideas for improvement?“ What could be more fulfilling than having your boss taking your opinion seriously?

4. Continuous Improvement
Rules that make sense today, might be stupid or obsolete in the future. That is why you need to always set up the culture that triggers improving all rules and processes.

Same as every good game: When everybody plays according to the same rules and no Mr. Know-it-all tries to get around, performance and improvement are much more fun.

Interested in discussing this? We invite to our Roundtable for Shopfloor Management.

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