Lean Human Resources : Redesigning HR Processes for a Culture of Continuous Improvement book cover
1st Edition

Lean Human Resources
Redesigning HR Processes for a Culture of Continuous Improvement

ISBN 9781439813065
Published September 13, 2010 by Productivity Press
263 Pages 23 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $49.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Encouraging a long overdue shift in thinking, this book gives managers and executives the means to maximize employee potential by first showing them how to increase the improvement power of their HR departments. Cheryl M. Jekiel, who has been implementing Lean initiatives out of HR offices for 20 years, defines the people-related approaches and practices needed to alter any cultural dynamic that keeps employees from leveraging their peak abilities. She looks at why so many companies allow this sort of waste to exist, how traditional HR departments have not been especially effective in combating waste, and why today’s HR department should be seen differently, as a partner delivering exceptional customer service to employees.

Everyone Needs to Learn and Improve
Everyone Needs to Participate and Be Involved

Ultimately, lasting change requires evolution in an organizational cultural and to achieve such change requires definitive changes in behavior. To ensure that changes are properly paced and effectively put into operation, the book puts forth a proven five-year plan that includes the building of improvement-linked competencies into each job.

Everyone Can Lead
Lead with the Customer in Mind
Lead by Teaching and Coaching
Lead by Creating More Leaders

A final section is designed especially for CEOs who must address their own views of HR before addressing improvement. They must recognize that Lean HR strategies and methods can be used to create a highly motivating place to work, and that anything less would be a waste of talent. To begin, an organization must realize the value of its HR staff and put it to use implementing improvement that is organic, fundamental, and self perpetuating.

Table of Contents

Who This Book Can Help
Why You Should Read This Book Now
A Background in Business, Lean, and HR
How This Book Is Organized
Using This Book

Wasting Employee Talent

The Root of the Problem: Why Don’t We See the Waste of Talent?
   Hidden Cause Number 1: Work Roles Limit People by Design;
   Most People Can Do So Much More!
   Hidden Cause Number 2: Power Is Limited to Only a Few People
   Hidden Cause Number 3: People Are Reluctant to Do More Work
   Hidden Cause Number 4: Channeling Abilities Creates More Work
   Hidden Cause Number 5: There’s No Assigned Cost to People Working at Lower Capacity
The Solution: Seven Lean Principles Uncover People’s True Capabilities
   Capability Number 1: Keeping Customers (and the Company’s Purpose) in Mind
   Capability Number 2: Learning to Improve
   Capability Number 3: Generating Ideas
   Capability Number 4: Seeing the Big Picture
   Capability Number 5: Solving Problems
   Capability Number 6: Working to Meet Visible Common Goals
   Capability Number 7: Demonstrating Personal Leadership
Conclusion: Wasted Talent Is a Natural Result of Failed Culture Changes
Attempts to Create an Improvement Culture Often Fail
Common Excuses for Failed Lean Efforts
Reasons for Failed Lean Efforts
   Reason Number 1: Applying Lean as a Set of Tools
   Reason Number 2: Changes Require New Ways to Work
   Reason Number 3: The Balance of Power Creates Resistance
   Reason Number 4: Lack of HR Involvement Automatically
   Risks Failure
HR Has a Key Role in Successful Lean Implementations
   HR’s Involvement with Cultural Implementations
   HR’s Role in Designing Newly Required Processes
   HR Supports Handling Resistance to Leadership Changes
New Roles for HR Apply to Any Organization
The Key to Unlocking HR Support of Successful Culture Changes


Keeping HR in the Background Is a Business Problem
How Historical Roles for HR Create a Problem Today
   Root Cause Number 1: Too Much Focus on Administration
   Root Cause Number 2: HR Is Seen as a Policing Function
   Root Cause Number 3: Not Much Strategic Value Covering
   Union Relations
Attitudes about People in the Workplace Are a Problem
   Root Cause Number 1: People Are Not Viewed as a Strategic Advantage
   Root Cause Number 2: HR Has an Assigned Role (Which Doesn’t Include Strategy)
   Root Cause Number 3: HR Is Not Part of Improvement
Insufficient HR Skill Levels Don’t Help the Issue
   Root Cause Number 1: HR Professionals Are Not Required to
Have Strong Business Skills
   Root Cause Number 2: HR Professionals Lack Consulting Skills
   Root Cause Number 3: Many HR Professionals Lack Customer
   Root Cause Number 4: HR People Do Not Seek Strategic Roles
A New Vision for HR
New Attitudes about People Impact HR
   Recognize that People Really Are a Competitive Advantage
Broaden Your Definition of "Labor"
New Demands Drive More HR Skills
   Develop Business Strategy Skills
   Develop Finance Skills
   Develop Consulting (Alignment) Skills
   Develop Customer Relationship Skills
   Develop Team-Based Improvement Skills
   Ensure Ongoing Personal Growth and Development
   Develop Skill in Using Lean Methodologies
HR Needs to Step into New Roles
   Become a Strategic Partner
   Become a Champion for Improvement
How to Develop the New Skills You Need
   Seek Out Educational Institutions
   Benchmark Yourself: Learn from Other Organizations
   Find a Mentor
   Join Professional Associations
Assessing HR Skills
Providing Better Service for Your Organization by First Improving HR Processes
Three Benefits of Improving HR Practices
   1. Ensure that Each Part of an HR Process Adds Value
   2. Remember: Happier Employees Perform Better
   3. Build Knowledge of Continuous Improvement through
Overview of the HR Improvement Effort
Step 1: Evaluate HR for Opportunities for Improvement
   Clarify Current HR Processes
   Establish Process Boundaries
   Define Ownership, Results, and Stakeholders
   Gather Data about the Process You Want to Change
   Listen to Your Customer (Your Employees!)
   Create HR Process Maps
Step 2: Prioritize Your Findings
   Identify Which Improvements Best Support the Business
   Strategy in General
   Evaluate Improvements in Terms of Gains
   Consider the Time and Resources Required
Step 3: Execute Your Action Plan
   Make Sure Improvements Are Sustainable
   Make Sure Stakeholders Buy into the Proposed Process Change
   Develop Communication Plans with Stakeholders
   Create Your Action Plans
Step 4: Evaluate and Revise Your Plans
   Evaluate the Effects of the Actions Taken
   Revise the Process to Make Additional Changes
Success through Powerful People Strategies
Traditional Business Strategies versus Lean or Continuous
Improvement Business Strategies
   Difference in Customer Perspective
   Difference in Workflows
   Difference in People Strategies
HR Support of Business Strategy
Beyond Full Alignment


Changing Employee Attitudes and Daily Behaviors
The Role of Organizational Culture in Achieving Success
   What Is Culture?
   Every Organization Has a Culture
   Setting Cultural Objectives for Your Organization
   Identifying Your Organization’s Cultural Values
Key Concepts of Continuous Improvement Cultures
   Cultural Element Number 1: Customer Focus
   Cultural Element Number 2: Continuous Improvement
   Cultural Element Number 3: Broad Participation
   Cultural Element Number 4: Process Management
   Cultural Element Number 5: Team-Based Factual Problem Solving
   Cultural Element Number 6: Visual Measurement of Results
   Cultural Element Number 7: Inspirational Leadership
Lessons on Culture Implementations for Lean HR
A General Approach to Designing a Culture
Customize a Plan to Implement a Culture
HR’s Critical Role with Cultural Objectives
HR Helps Differentiate the Effect Individuals Have on Culture
   Dealing with Individuals Who Are Strongly Aligned to a Lean Culture
   Dealing with Individuals Who Strongly Disagree with a Lean Culture
   Dealing with People in Neither Group
Policies, Communications, and Celebrations Need to Reflect Your Organization’s Values
Assess Your Organization’s Policies against Lean Principles
   Protect Employees’ Psychological Safety
   Blur the Lines between All Employees
   Encourage Accountability Instead of Control
Communicating Policies via Other Avenues
   Communicating Policies via Newsletters, Bulletin Boards, and Meetings
   Communicating Policy at Celebrations
   Communicating Culture via Your Organization’s Physical
   Communicating Policy via Your Organization’s Safety Programs
   Planning Cultural Objectives as Part of Your Strategic Planning
Can Attitudes Be Measured?
Surveys Measure Attitudes and Build Relationships
   Listening Builds Relationships
   Using Culture Surveys to Support Culture Changes in Your Organization
   Taking Surveys of Employee Satisfaction
   Customer Surveys Can Be Very Useful
The Survey Process


Optimize Each Job
Building Continuous Improvement into Jobs
Level 1: Everyone Actively Drives Continuous Improvement
   All Roads Lead to the Customer
   Everyone Needs to Learn and Improve
   Everyone Needs to Participate and Be Involved
   Everyone Knows the Business to Some Degree
   Everyone Participates in Team Problem Solving
   Everyone Knows Which Measurements Relate to Them
   Everyone Can Lead
Level 2: Winning or Losing Often Links to the Right Leadership
   Lead with the Customer in Mind
   Lead by Teaching and Coaching
   Leaders Who Inspire Participation, Listen Effectively, and
   Reward Initiative
   Lead with a Standard of Consistency
   Prevent Problems by Encouraging People to Surface Them
   Lead with Visual Measurements
   Lead by Creating More Leaders
Level 3: What Needs to Change in Each Function
   Lean Accounting Competencies
   Lean Human Resources Competencies
   Lean Information Systems Competencies
   Lean Quality Assurance Competencies
Level 4: Creating the Gold Standard for Each Job
   Customizing Needed Job Skills for Any Organization
   Begin with Organization-Wide Requirements
   Define What Is Important for All Leaders
   Bring the Strategy into Each Function and Job
   Customizing Skill Requirements Is a Dynamic Process
Job Analysis for the Future
The Importance of Documenting Job Content
   Documenting Job Content Establishes a Basis for Accountability
   Documenting Job Content Establishes a Basis for Applying Lean Principles
   Documenting Job Content Provides a Method to Link HR Programs
   Documenting Job Content Provides a Model for Process Improvement of Jobs
Creating a Job Content Matrix
   Step 1: Documenting Observable Activities of Each Job
   Step 2: Documenting Knowledge Requirements of Each Job
   Step 3: Documenting the Results Required of Each Job
Begin with Entry-Level Management
   Complete the Documentation through Teamwork
   Behaviors Provide Knowledge and Results
   Identify the Future Proposition for Jobs
   The Importance of a Lean Leader Matrix
   Organizational Job Content Matrix
   Creating Evaluations Once a Matrix is Completed


Linking the Four Core HR Processes to the Overall Business Strategy
HR Processes Can Be Strategic Levers
   Excelling at One Primary Process Is Enough
   Better HR Processes through Benchmarking
Strategic Lever Number One: Recruitment
   "An Often-Missed Opportunity"
   Start with Looking for Improvement-Oriented Leaders
   Use Tools to Select the Right People
   Try Outside Resources for Selecting the Right Leaders
   Allow the Team to Select Its Own Members and Leader
   Evaluate Your Organization’s Current Leadership
   Strong Cultures Demand Strong Orientations
Strategic Lever Number Two: Training and Development
   "Unless It Adds Value, It’s Often a Waste of Resources"
   Standard Work or Knowledge Requirements Create a Basis for
   Training Needs
   Ensure Training Adds Value
   Connection to Strategy and Results
Strategic Lever Number Three: People Thrive on Accountability
   "The Great Controversy over the Role of Performance Management"
   The Downside of Performance Management Systems
   The Upside of Performance Management Systems
   Standard Work Creates a Baseline for Performance Feedback1
   Visual Performance Management Systems
   Use of 360° Feedback Programs
Strategic Lever Number Four: Recognition and Rewards
   "Most Over- and Underestimated HR Process"
   The Power of Recognition
   Start with Desired Behaviors
   A Recognition Review
   Financial Reward Systems
   Sharing the Gains from Continuous Improvement
   Beware of Disconnects
A Five-Year Plan for Change
How to Put Together a Five-Year Plan
Consider Management Roles and Maturity of Improvement Efforts3


The Benefits of Motivating the Human Spirit
Optimizing Human Potential and Motivation Creates a Triple Win7
   Resulting Customer Benefits
   Resulting Employee Benefits
   Resulting Organizational Benefits
The Author

View More



Cheryl M. Jekiel is Vice President of Human Resources for the Flying Food Group. Jekiel leads the Human Resources Department including all corporate benefits, compensation and policy issues, while providing direction and leadership to human resources function in 16 unionized non-unionized domestic units.

Ms. Jekiel brings a tremendous passion for continuous improvement in her commitment to building Lean HR as a recognized field of work. She has over 20 years of manufacturing experience. Previously, Ms. Jekiel worked for a Chicago food manufacturer as the director of Human Resources and completed her employment by serving for five years as the Chief Operating Officer. Ms. Jekiel has developed an expertise in Lean manufacturing with a particular focus on Lean cultures. Ms. Jekiel has made countless significant improvements in reducing operating costs and leveraging a Lean culture to obtain new business. Her Lean experience has been greatly enhanced with her active involvement with the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME), which has included board roles for the National board as well as a Regional Midwest Board.


Jekiel makes a strong case for the greater part of waste coming from poor or nonexistent HR systems; she breaks down that complex subject into root causes, commentary, and then solutions. Her systematic mapping of the path to get out of the cave and into the light of day gives the reader hope that transformation of the culture is possible.
— Sherrie Ford, Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice-President, Culture Power Partners, Inc.

This message is long overdue -- how HR can drive cultural change and powerful results -- by a truly Lean HR executive who has been there and done it.
— William J. Kennedy, CEO, The Sequoyah Group, Inc.