Stephanie Pullings-Hart, Executive Director Technical & Production for Nestlé Australia, provides a glimpse into the communication methodologies which form the basis of the Nestlé Continuous Excellence (“NCE”) program. With household brands such as NESCAFÉ, UNCLE TOBYS, MILO, MAGGI and of course KIT KAT, NCE and Total Performance Management (TPM) are cornerstones of the way Nestlé does business. This encapsulates everything they are trying to do in the area of safety, quality, cost, waste and importantly, customer satisfaction.
Stephanie shares some of the key insights from the NCE journey:
In today’s manufacturing environment, companies aspire to be free of safety and quality incidents while mastering performance. To achieve these goals Nestlé set out to engage the hearts and minds of their people through a highly articulated program of coaching, mentoring and empowerment. This program, called NCE, was then paired with typical TPM methodologies. The end result has been a profound impact on how we engage with staff – and consequently how we create greater value for the end consumer.
Several sites within the region were already on TPM, but we knew we could make it a richer experience for our employees. Particularly, those in the factory needed to be able to voice their concerns – they really know what they are talking about and this feedback is vital to identify problems or to pre-empt problems.
With NCE, there are a certain set of activities that leaders do every day to check in with their employees to provide those coaching opportunities to draw out this information, and allow them to get those breakthrough results. It’s called the Check-Act routine – and the difference lies in the fact that it’s not a traditional “quality check”, it’s specifically around the coaching aspect. That is, it is employee centric and all about engaging them on the line.
Back to Basics
During the Check-Act routine, what actually happens is the employees get a better understanding of what is expected and what the critical points are. It sounds quite fundamental, but sometimes we can make things too complicated, so we have gone back to a very basic routine of engaging in that conversation so our employees are further empowered to make their own decisions.
When I visit the factory sites, particularly those that a have a robust standard routine, and you engage with the operator, they know exactly what they are aiming for on that day; they know their throughput, they know what is required and expected of them for mitigating any quality risks. They also have a better understanding how to coach their own team members i.e. peer to peer coaching, particularly when someone is filling in for them during a break. They just have a higher sense of pride in the line itself, which has led us to have significant increases in Overall Equipment Effectiveness.
Traditionally, the senior managers get a lot of buy-in, and the line managers can feel marginalised. However with NCE, the Line Managers get a lot of love in the process and it’s a way to bridge to gap to ensure they are actively contributing to the whole operation.
Having the Conversation
Often when you are in management, there is an expectation that you should be “telling” people what they need to do – but we have found this is a very outmoded and 80’s style of management that is no longer appropriate. The most fundamental issue is communication – and communicating in a positive way. But this too can be problematic if you automatically expect that people know what you are talking about.
My advice is to take the time to have the conversation – whether it’s the front line supervisor, or the employee on the line, take that time to understand and ask questions. Seek to understand what the true challenges are so you can provide the right support and get the result that you are looking for.
Stephanie Pullings-Hart is the Executive Director of Technical & Production for Nestlé Australia and is a popular Mainstream Conference speaker.