Lean Solutions, LLC.

... a consulting services company


Your people are your biggest asset (and often your biggest expense).   You must find and retain the best employees to be successful.

We've all seen and heard the lists of reasons for employee satisfaction. Almost universally money does not top these lists. Job satisfaction comes from less tangible factors than money but those factors are not impossible to affect. Lean Solutions can help your business achieve higher employee satisfaction and the improved employee retention and customer loyalty that comes with an enganged workforce.   Per Forbes.com - Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

An engaged employee cares about the peformance of the company and their work and they want to feel that their efforts can make a difference. In the 1960s Kaoru Ishikawa, Professor of Engineering at The University of Tokyo, started the initiative of Quality Circles. The key to Quality Circles is the utilization of front line workers to identify, analyze and solve work-related problems. This involvment of front line workers has shown to contribute directly to employee engagement.

“An exceptional company is the one that gets all the little details right. And the people out on the front line, they know when things are not going right, and they know when things need to be improved. And if you listen to them, you can soon improve all those niggly things which turns an average company into an exceptional company.”     Sir Richard Branson


Without question it's hard to hire good candidates. The skills you're looking for in a warehouse forklift driver are much different than what you need in a territorial sales manager. Regardless of the skills required, the qualities of a solid hire are the same. Honestly, commitment, hard work, ethical and the ability to think for themselves.
The goal of hiring is to identify the candidates who not only have the skills (qualifications) for the job, but who also possess the character of a top performer.

If your interview process consists mainly of selling your company to the candidate you are probably not hiring excellent people. Be sure your interview process focuses on the candidate and their experiences and personality and less on how proud you are of your business. While resumes are still a useful tool for listing work history and education, the real insight into a person come through the interview process. During the interview you need to evaluate a person's "fit" within your organization and what you believe to be their likelihood for success and longevity with the company. Unless you are hiring someone that will never see, speak to or otherwise interact in any way with others, you need to understand how the candidate reacts under pressure and how they think on their feet. Do they have empathy for others or are they self-centered? If you are still asking questions such as "What is your greatest weakness?" then you are not getting the full measure of a candidate.

Anthony Tjan, a business consultant and CEO of the Cue Ball Group, a Boston-based venture capital firm, poses 5 questions that can help us distinguish between compentancy (important) and character (more important).

  • What are the one or two traits from your parents that you most want to ensure you and your kids have for the rest of your life?
  • What is 25 times 25?
  • Tell me about three people whose lives you positively changed. What would they say if I called them tomorrow?
  • After an interview, ask yourself (and other team members, if relevant) “Can I imagine taking this person home with me for the holidays?"
  • After an interview, ask security or the receptionist: “How was the candidate’s interaction with you?”

Over the years just one of the methods we've found to be very helpful is a simple riddle about 3 light bulbs and 3 switches. The point of the exercise is to observe how the candidate attempts to solve the riddle. It is amazing the number of people that simply give up. That speaks volumes about how they approach unexpected problems in life. Almost no one ever gets the answer. That's not what is important though. What matters is that they try and that they use logic to work through the problem. You can find an example of this riddle in Popular Mechanics.

If your company needs help in upgrading your hiring processes or teaching your managers how to conduct a more meaningful interview, Lean Solutions can help.


Job skills, compliance, health and safety. These are a few of the areas where our employees need solid training. Knowing how to perform your job functions, and do them legally and safely will have a positive, on-going, impact to employee satisfaction and engagement. The workplace has unarguably changed in the last decade. Many of the skills requried by today's employees didn't exist in the main-stream 10-15 years ago. Even front-line, or direct labor, employees need to have computer literacy skills not to mention enhanced safety awareness and, in publicly held companies a fundamental understanding of compliance regulations (ie SOX).

The organization that continues to train its employees will enjoy the benefits of increased productivity, quality and reduced employee turnover. Lack of training is one of the items most often cited as a reason for job dissatisfaction among employees during exit interviews. Too often we rely on co-workers or lead people to provide training to our employees. This approach, while expedient, does our companies a great disservice as the training that new hires receive is often haphazard and often times only supplied after mistakes or accidents have happened. The worst problem of this training methodology is that bad habits can be instilled into the trainees by the "pseudo" trainer. Just because someone has been on the job for a long time does not mean that they have the qualities of a good teacher. Taking this for granted can lead to high employee turnover and reduced safety, quality and productivity.

Lean Solutions can help you design training courses in a variety of areas to fit your business needs. From safety to IT skills, from customer service skills to Lean manufacturing, we can help you design and deliver the training that meets your business needs.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don't want to.”   - Sir Richard Branson.


Coaching employees is much different than coaching a sports team. When we coach employees we are looking for a collaboration instead of dictating behavior.
The goal of coaching employees is to plan for better performance in the future through commitment to improvement.

Unfortunately, employees sometimes just do not live up to their potential, or they exhibit behaviors that are a distraction to their team or department. Allowing this behavior or job performance to continue can send a negative message to their co-workers and can have a significant, negative impact to your customers. Even well seasoned, productive employees can encounter challenges in their personal lives that can impact their performance at work. Estimates to hire and train new employees range from $4,000 to more than $7,000 for highly skilled positions. It only makes financial sense to do your best to coach (counsel) under-performing employees. Lean Solutions can help your staff learn how to create and implement Personal Improvment Programs (PIPs) to assist employees in changing undesireable behaviors and elevate their performance.

Not all coaching is due to poor performance. One area that many companies need to improve is their succession planning strategies. What happens in your business if a key employee suddenly leaves? Will you have a new leader to replace the old leader? Lean Solutions can help you put together a plan for coaching your future leaders and prepare them to help keep your company moving forward when key talent decides to leave your organization.


Team building is a collective term for various types of activities used to enhance social relations and define roles within teams, often involving collaborative tasks. Wikipedia

The act of building a team is to find common ground among the team members. This is often associated with a shared activity that causes the members of the team to stretch outside of their comfort zone (at least a little bit) and causes them to have to rely on their team members for success. Because of its collaborative nature, team building is often a fun activity. Team building can also be used as an opportunity to learn new skills while at the same time fostering cohesiveness in a group.

Team building excercises can be as simple as you want or they can be elaborate, off-site activities. The limit is really only dictacted by your imagination (and budget). You might use some simple ice-breakers before meetings such as "Office Trivia" where you make teams of people who compete to answer triva questions about the workplace, or you could go all out on a white-water rafting trip. This is personally a favorite of ours.

Whatever you do, keep it fun. Team building is about learning something new about your co-workers and breaking down the barriers to communication and innovation.

Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)

Managing recruiting, hiring, onboarding, payroll, benefits, attendance, leave, performance reviews and a host of other items can fall under a modern HRIS system.   Overprocessing, one of the 7 wastes of muda, can rob your business of productivity when your supervisors and payroll department spend hours every week reconciling time cards, tracking vacation requests and attending to the needs of their direct reports.

In addition to reducing the burden on supervision and HR, a HRIS system can also be a fantastic source of labor based information. With the data you can mine from a properly implemented HRIS system you can track labor costs and compute key Key Performance Indicators (KPI) such as units per man hour for production and time spent on reseach and development per project.

HRIS systems are typically modular allowing you to implement as much, or as little, as you need for your business. Some typical modules are:

  • Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
  • Human Capital Managment (HCM)
  • Benefits Administration
  • Payroll Management
  • Time and attendance

When it comes to managing people and the biggest expense in your organization, it only makes sense to have a system that helps you navigate the complexity of a modern HR department.