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What is Team Leader Standard Work?

There are a lot of standards in Lean Manufacturing – it’s our process for documenting how things are done. Standards allow us to clearly communicate the requirements to new employees and remind long-standing ones. Standards can be audited against to check we are following our set processes.  We have standards to cover 5S and housekeeping, quality specifications and how people work. We have most of the factory cover by these standards – now it’s time to consider the standards needed by team leaders and managers.

Team leader standard work often has scary connotations, trying to control the uncontrollable and not allowing flexible leadership to react as needed. As we move into a Leaner enterprise, ensuring our team leaders cover all their tasks each week is as important as the people they are directing.

As with many of our standards, the aim we are looking for is a one-paged, simple document that lists all the tasks and meetings that need to be done each day or during the week.

Creating standard work for team leaders starts with the weekly structure of production cycles and meetings. Defined meeting times lay the foundation for the tasks a team leader needs to cover. Next are the list of tasks to be done each day and over the week. If there are preferred times to carry out these tasks, they can be written in. If their completion is flexible in the day, these tasks can be defined as a list to check off as they are completed.

Weekly tasks need to be spread out over the week to level load.  The benefit of spreading these weekly tasks across the week is that increases the chances of completing them and making sure the important tasks get done, even when the urgent try to intrude. Tasks like reviewing the auditing and checking on long term projects can also have a time slot.

Monthly tasks, meetings and reviews can be tackled a few ways; for higher-level reviews, this may have a weekly time slot, but the meeting topic changes each week (for example Week 1 Quality, Week 2 Sales, Week 3 Safety, Week 4 Lean projects) This sets aside time for all people involved and creates the expectation of people begin in that forum at the set time. Other monthly tasks may be defined as a list to check off as they are completed. Reviewing these to make sure they are not all left to the end of the month becomes the challenge here.

Once you have a draft of your Team Leader standard work, commit to sticking to it for 4 weeks, noting what is working and what needs review. Checking and reflecting on standard work and refining as needed will ensure your standards are robust and highlight where coaching is needed for the tasks that aren’t getting done – there is always an opportunity for problem-solving!