Supervisors and team leaders are crucial to Continuous Improvement (CI) efforts. The reason is that often it is a frontline supervisor who provides personnel time to participate on the CI teams as well as the production equipment for the Basic Equipment Care (BECWs) workshops. Supervisors do this at the expense of their own production goals.
In return for their support of the company's continuous improvement goals, they often are left out of the CI team.
Supervisors are often kept out of ‘the loop' because some believe that by including a supervisor on a BEC team their mere presence may inhibit participation and idea sharing as their subordinate team mates become subservient to their thoughts and ideas. A solution to this possible problem is to ensure that the supervisor participates on teams that are not associated with their area of responsibility. Even so, this alone is no reason to exclude such an important individual.
In my personal experience as a TPM Coordinator, my relationships with frontline supervisors were crucial to successfully implementing TPM. I asked for their cooperation and support by providing ideas, people, time, and equipment; and in return the improvement teams increased uptime and equipment reliability as well as improved product quality and overall productivity.
Ignore the front line supervisors at your peril. Their support is crucial. To gain their support they must feel part of the team.