Surprising My First Employee

Improvement Insights Blog

Surprising My First Employee

Some people think working long hours and putting in a lot of overtime is the red badge of courage. They are wrong. Here’s why:

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma Demystified” and QI Macros [software].

“When I first hired my first employee Adrienne she’d been working for Arthur Andersen, which was a big accounting firm, and she was used to working long hours like that was the “red badge of courage.” She said, “If you need me to work nights or weekends, I can do whatever that is. I can do whatever it takes.” I said in a very calm voice, “Well, I think if we’re doing that, we’re not doing a very good job of running the business or managing it.” She looked at me kind of like “What?” I said, “No, if we’re doing a quality job, then guess what? If we have systems that work consistently then we don’t need all that overtime.

“Now it’s not that every once in a while we don’t have to put in a little extra time to do something, but it’s rare, okay? It’s rare, it’s not a common occurrence. When you adopt a Quality mindset, when you start to simplify, streamline, optimize and innovate your business, guess what? You don’t have to work endless hours to make things happen. You just don’t.

“Adrienne was a little freaked out about that, but she learned what I was saying, and that’s the way we’ve run the business for the last 20-some-odd years. As I added other employees, they started to discover that same thought, and that’s something I try and pass on to all of my employees: If we’re doing it right, we don’t have a lot of [overtime]. It’s unnecessary.

“So that’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Start simplifying, streamlining, optimizing your business, and then you’ll find ways to innovate… and guess what? It won’t take as much time to do what you need to do, and you’ll have more time to do the things that are really important and less time fighting those crises.

“Let’s create a hassle-free America; hassle free healthcare. Let’s go out and improve something this week.”

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