Managers are often oblivious to the possible issues on the work floor, and this may have an impact on operational efficiency. There are varied ways managers and leaders solve problems at work, but for a production unit, manufacturing company, or factor, the actual issues are always noticed through the work process. If you are wondering what is Gemba walk and how your team can do it better, below is a guide that may come in handy.
Understanding Gemba walks
In simple words, Gemba walk is a kind of management exercise, where managers and leaders go to the workplace and observe processes, so as to find the possible scope for improvement. This is not same as Management By Walking Around. Gemba translates to the real place in Japanese, and the exercise is particularly important for finding flaws within the workplace. There are a few aspects that managers need to understand about this.
- Gemba walk is not a corrective exercise. As a manager, your prime job is to observe.
- This is not a bossy exercise either. Evaluating employee performance is not your objective.
- Gemba walk must have a purpose.
- Every observation must be noted. Supportive documents and photos must be stored.
- Gemba walks are about processes and not about people.
Knowing the dos and don’ts
First and foremost, managers are expected to schedule and have a plan for Gemba walks, and it could be done more than once each day, depending on the objective. It is also critical for managers to ensure that everyone knows what the exercise is all about. You don’t want to intimidate your people in any way. In fact, the participation is critical. Gemba walks shouldn’t also affect the work flow in any way. Keep in mind that your objective is to check how the steps and processes work, and therefore, there shouldn’t be an observer effect. Asking questions on the work floor is also necessary. Sometimes, questions are spontaneous, but some initial preparation is always advisable. Do not treat Gemba walks as a means to reprimand your people. Even if you don’t like something or have an issue with how someone is getting a job done, reserve your comments.
Finally, don’t shy away from finding ways to improve Gemba walks. There are apps available that can be considered for recording details of every exercise, which further can come handy in taking important decisions.