Asking for HelpWritten by Sue Edwards
For many of us, asking for help is a difficult concept. It can require a certain amount of vulnerability. We may feel as if we are admitting a weakness that world would not have known about, had we not asked for help.
Ironically, it’s been my experience that people who are able to deliver well-positioned requests for help are seen as very strong individuals. When they demonstrate humility to ask for help, they earn respect of others. Recipients of a heartfelt request for help are usually honored by request. In turn, we are strengthened by very help that is provided.
One of my clients (we’ll call her Kira), recently made a shift in how she was interacting with her boss. When asked to prepare presentations, she assumed that she was expected to go away, develop content, deliver it at required meeting and then wait for feedback from her boss. Her boss was highly-regarded for impact of his presentations, while Kira often felt that her presentations were lacking. When she took a hard look at how this approach was working for her, Kira was able to recognize that she was not fully leveraging her boss’s support. She could learn far more about creating presentations with “oomph” by walking-through a draft with her boss—focusing on content plus her delivery—and obtaining feedback earlier in process rather than at back-end. So…she made request for his upfront support.
The outcome? Her boss was delighted to coach Kira and was enthused about opportunity to leverage his own strength by imparting presentation skills more effectively to her. By taking time to work together on preparation for a number of Kira’s key presentations, she benefited from her boss’ thought process and was able to distinguish critical components to enhance her own presentations. Kira’s presentations now have punch! She delivers with confidence of someone who has great material and is well-prepared. She now rarely needs corrective feedback after-the-fact. Equally important is that in very act of asking for help, Kira has demonstrated to her boss that she is effectively leveraging resources around her.
How are your assumptions about appropriateness of asking for help getting in your way?
Some of us are uncomfortable asking for help because we believe that our request places burden on other person. Ironically, we may be missing an opportunity to show others’ how we value and respect them. People who know you and think well of you, are often highly motivated to help—and with reality of their busy work lives, they need to be asked. Furthermore, more specific you can be about what you need from them, easier it is for them to assist you.
6 Steps to Six SigmaWritten by Michael Nelson
Get proper level of Six Sigma expertise at executive level of company. If top leaders don’t understand advanced six sigma principles, company has no shot to attain total quality. This will probably require a hefty budget, entailing hiring of several high-priced consultants for long periods of time. The consultants need to observe and gather data about companies operations, and show executives how to interpret data.
Get staff involved. The ones in trenches are most knowledgeable about day-to-day operations, and day to day’s are where most costs are spent. This means getting people like shop foreman, line supervisor, and office manager involved in training. Not only do they need to understand thinking behind six sigma, but they also need to buy into benefits. Since they’re ones carrying out orders and directing vast majority of employees, if trench-level staff isn’t aligned with management, company is sunk.
Measure data - quantify number of defects per unit. This applies not only to manufacturing, but to services as well. It’s easier to measure defects on an assembly line. You just divide number of defective units by total output (that’s really simplified, but you get point). Services are more vague.
This is why it is vital to get input from your customers. Ask them how things are going from their perspective. Is there anything they would like to see you improve on that would make their experience more favorable? You’re looking to increase overall quality. Nobody knows your faults better than your customers.
Everything must be measured and quantified into actual numerical data. How long does it take average customer order to ship? What percentage of customers is satisfied with your performance? What is average employee break time? How long does it take customer service department to answer phone? Once enough data is gathered to answer questions like these, six sigma process and path to quality improvement can begin.