As we discussed in our previous blog, 7 Tips for a Successful Digital Transformation your organization has undergone a hefty transformation. So, now what? You keep changing and improving! This does not mean that the company should always be changing in big, dynamic ways; sometimes it is just small tweaks to your regular processes and functions that are necessary. The one thing that you can count on to stay the same is that your competition will never stop growing. Cultivating an environment where your organization is able to sustain improvements to its operating performance will provide a significant advantage over the competition. Most importantly, improved performance does not simply come from updating the processes themselves but from organizational management. Here are our five ways to create a culture of continuous improvement.
#1 Provide a Measure for Excellence
If you do not have an idea of what operational excellence looks like within your organization, then it is hard to set clear expectations for your employees. Likewise, if your employees do not have a way to measure excellence, the uncertainty and lack of progress will diminish motivation and drive. CEO Magazine suggests that “you should define success in terms of quality, cost, and customer service.” Truly achieving a culture of continuous improvement means that you will have a measurable idea of what is working and what is not. This includes whether or not performance targets are being met. Once operational excellence has been achieved, you should look into managing your stakeholders’ expectations as well.
#2 Build Better Leaders
Great managers and team leaders know how to combine the right people, processes, and leadership skills to achieve workplace goals. Setting your managers and leaders up for success means that they will also lead your other employees into shared success. Clearly define what each individual’s tasks and responsibilities are on a daily basis for all levels. Be sure to eliminate low-value activities for high-value activities that continue to work towards goals and building up the overall team. Furthermore, leaders can develop deeper insights when supplied with better information. Utilizing and sharing data is important to keep leaders informed so that they can make the best decisions and not waste time. A team working as a well-oiled machine driven by a great leader will make innovation and improvement easier.
#3 Proactively Manage
At the heart of being proactive in managing processes is finding problems before they fully reveal themselves and cause more issues. Operating problems are more costly and troublesome when they appear suddenly and unprepared for. To combat this, it should be a part of your routine to actively identify potential issues. This means continually examining processes to see if they can be made better, which cultivates a culture of continuous improvement. This proactive management style can be implemented on all levels, which will drive improvement throughout the organization. Always strive to make all processes as efficient as possible, and then continue to find innovative ways to maintain the cycle.
#4 Eliminate Blame
Clear goals and clear expectations are vital, but that also means employees will notice when there is a gap between where the company is and where you want it to be. This can make people uncomfortable or stressed, and fear in the workplace can put a stop to continuous improvement. It is therefore crucial that you eliminate this fear by not focusing on fault, but instead on how to move forward. Ultimately, most operating problems are not caused by any one individual, but rather by a lack of foresight, poor communication, poor training, changes in customer demands or changes in competitive landscapes. So, the more efficient way to move forward is to analyze how to fix the problem rather than how the mistake was made.
#5 Be Your Success Story
To put it simply, what works (or does not work) for one company might not work (or work) for your company. Using the success story of another organization as a template will not address the needs and concerns of your specific business. It is imperative that you focus on solving problems inside your business and continue to improve from within. Encourage your employees to adopt this mindset as well by helping them focus on and solve an isolated problem within their department. Working on problems occurring in the team’s everyday setting will open up the conversation for continued improvement. This helps fight a reluctance to change work routines on all functional and employee levels, which will accordingly cultivate the culture of continuous improvement that you are striving for.
Building an environment that cultivates continuous improvement means building a workplace mindset that helps foster these changes. Everyone in the company should be a leader in their own right, and everyone should continue to seek out innovative ways to improve business processes. Providing your employees with the proper resources to manage and measure their goals and progress creates this productive culture. Overall, it is important to remember that healthy change comes from within, and that fostering this workplace culture will help set your organization on a winning path to continuous improvement. For more information on this topic you can also check out our Continuous Improvement Brochure at: https://www.planbox.com/solutions/continuous-improvement-software/