Who's Your Weakest Link?

How fast can you move and how strong are you? Easy questions to answer when you assess your own abilities and performance (presuming of course that you answer honestly) or those of a single athlete. When you have to consider the speed and strength of an entire team, the answer isn’t nearly as simple or straightforward. The same thing is true when making those types of performance assessments about a department or your entire plant.

Enter “weakest link” thinking. Unfortunately, the adage is true: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A relay team is only as fast as its slowest runner. A quarterback with the highest passing accuracy doesn’t do the team much good if the receivers can’t catch the ball. A troop of hiking scouts can only move as quickly as the little kid with short legs. Until you improve the speed of slowest runner, the catching ability of the receivers or help the little kid by carrying his backpack, you cannot improve the overall success of the team or the troop.

The production floor operates the same the way. You have your stars who excel with few, if any, errors, and then you have your “less than star quality” employees. Now if they’re like the receivers dropping the ball, careless and sloppy, it’s time to insist on improvement. Careless and sloppy are correctable – either by way of the employee making the effort or the exit door. However, some of your folks may be like the slower runner or the little kid trying to keep up.

These folks have their teams’ best interest at heart and either need a bit of coaching to improve performance or some assistance. Despite their intentions, they are your weakest links, and until you can improve their performances, you cannot move the department or your organization forward any faster than you are now moving. But your weak links aren’t always obvious.

Like any good coach, it takes daily observation to truly understand who’s doing what and how well they’re doing it. And every manager knows that employees are more cognizant of their performance when they know they’re being watched. That’s exactly where the benefit of cameras comes into play. We discovered that in our own plant and for all of the clients that MPower serves. Observing via a remote monitor will always give you a truer perspective on what is really happening on your shop floor. With that perspective, you’ll be able to discover your weaker links, and when you know where your weak links are, you can take steps to improve them.

Observation may reveal that Worker A is over handling the widgets at his work station, so you can coach him on assembly techniques that reduce the steps he takes to move the widgets down the line – the same way the track coach teaches the slower runner better form to improve speed. Plus you may discover the Worker B is slower because she has to stretch too far to reach the widgets, so you may devise some ergonomic changes to eliminate that stretch – the same way the scout leader helps the short kid keep up by lightening his load.


Weak links aren’t necessarily bad employees, and with observation, you can figure out who they are and how to strengthen them to improve your overall performance… and bottom line. Contact the pros at MPower, and we'll be happy to help you improve your observational power.