Free Competency Matrix – increase efficiency based on employees’ intentions.

Free Competency Matrix – increase efficiency based on employees’ intentions.

Implementation of Lean at workstations usually starts with optimizing the overall workplace organization, maintenance of the tools and machines available to the workers, changing the way activities are performed, and joining positions.

This delivers spectacular results. However, very often we skip the worker as a person, who also has professional desires and ambitions. Even the best set process handled by an unmotivated worker won’t provide optimum results.

Is Adam Nawałka more familiar with tactics, techniques and physical preparation than Waldemar Fornalik or Franciszek Smuda? We do not know, but there’s no doubt that apart from the workshop, the mental preparation of the players also plays a colossal role in football. Nawałka is very good at his job. His task is to use the players appropriately, to make the most of their best features and make use of their skills in the best possible way.

It was his idea to switch to a system with two forwards/attackers, and he gave Sebastian Milik the chance to leave the bench, enter the game and score a goal against Germany – a goal that he will remember forever.

In the factory, we also have such opportunities. We have great people, but who are perhaps working in places they don’t really fit, wasting their potential. And so the company loses real money.

Thus, I present a great tool, that has repeatedly proven its effectiveness – the ‘Free competency matrix’.

The classic competency matrix contains information about which employee is able to perform which action. For example:

Competency matrix

1 – Not trained for the position
2 – Now undergoing training
3 – Trained, can work at the position independently

This matrix is a great tool for the Foreman, to know which position a particular employee can be directed to.

However, what if we change the approach and propose that:

  1. The matrix is filled in by the operators themselves
  2. Is filled in on the basis of what they feel
  3. Another classification is introduced:

X – I can, but I don’t want to work in this position
I – I can, and I want to work in this position
– I can’t, but I want to learn and work in this position
dot2– I can’t and I don’t want to work in this position
The matrix might then look like this:

Free competency matrix

The differences between these two matrices are essential. The first one tells us who is qualified to work at which position.

From the second matrix, we can find out:

  1. Whether the worker performing a particular operation feels they know what they’re doing.
  2. Whether the worker in a given position is performing their job with motivation.
  3. Whether our knowledge of a particular worker’s competences is accurate.
  4. Whether we have potential deputies in the plant, who could work in other positions.

This is the key information from the perspective of Lean: management with respect. Additionally, following the information from this matrix we have the chance to immediately increase productivity without additional labour input. Jerzy Martyniuk will undoubtedly be a more efficient grinder (because he will be happy to work in this position) than Natalia, who truly hates the job (although she knows the grinding machine). Instead, she would willingly move to assembly, while Krzysztof is dreaming about leaving his position… Apart from the performance boost, relocating the employees will also improve their flexibility: teaching them new activities will allow us to relocate them in emergencies. It’s also extremely important to note that by listening to the voice of the employees, their superiors will earn more respect and will improve their morale.

The vast majority of processes in industry are easy to do and anyone can quickly acquire the appropriate knowledge. But performance is determined by the desire to work in a particular environment. This must be taken into account, and the Free Matrix gives us the opportunity to find new staff without actually increasing employment.

PEOPLE ARE DIFFERENT. It’s a cliché but we often forget this as managers. We put this poor Andrzej in soldering just because he has electrical qualifications, or because he happened to apply for a job just when we were looking for a solderer. We can’t see that he sincerely hates this job, and would not propose any ideas to improve the process, nor exceed his target performance by even one item.

In fact, he is likely looking for a different job and will leave us at the first opportunity, which will result in lamentation, overtime and further delays. Nearby, Jola is packing small products into boxes. We directed her to this position because she’s a woman, and women cope better with packaging, and because Jola will not be excessively tired in this position. But we don’t know that with each box she packs, Jola is fading as a worker, and at staff meetings, when she hears about the various motivation programs, she feels angry and frustrated. Perhaps it’s because of her father, whom she watched every day soldering electrical plates in his small workshop, dreaming that one day she would be just like him…

People are the greatest investment/asset, thus before we start thinking about motivation programs, vouchers, bonuses, diplomas and medical packages, let’s try to give them some basic joy in their daily work. We cannot afford not to take the opportunity to increase the efficiency of our plant, cost-free… Well, unless we can afford it…

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