Train Your Team to Continuously Improve
Posted by Anders Holm Jørgensen
As you might know, every month we share our thoughts on leadership, teamwork, management initiatives and subjects we invest in. We do this because we continuously try to improve ourselves and keep making a difference for people in the workplace as on supporting our customers in the best possible manner. So, enjoy this blog on “Continuously training the team” by our Head of Delivery in Denmark, Anders Holm Jørgensen!
Train Your Team to Continuously Improve
Since perfection is impossible, improvement is always possible, whether you’re the CEO or the newest staff member of a company. Embracing this point of view allows us to focus on personal and professional growth, and to create an atmosphere that drives individuals towards inspired performance.
We try to implement improvement processes that facilitate an open conversation among colleagues to encourage everyone to create better results. Instead of coercion, we consider collaboration as top priority, empowering everyone to contribute to better performance across the board.
Debugging Your Improvement Process
Modern software and hardware tools have enabled companies to apply methods of performance improvement on a larger scale than previously possible. Obsolete methods of appraising and adjusting employee performance, such as competitive rankings and annual reviews, have been exposed as a waste of resources compared to processes that enable regular feedback for the entire organization. We think that companies that still rely on annual reviews aren’t able to identify issues and implement solutions as quickly as businesses that engage in a predictable communication routine. That is why we aim for tracking on a week-to-week basis, providing feedback while determining the support that a colleague needs to reach or exceed his or her performance targets.
As more organizations evolve to understand that managers and supervisors should be held to the same standards as everyone in an organization, performance improvement processes have grown to absorb the feedback of employees and even customers. This allows for a complete view of performance from all angles, instead of a point of view dictated from a single stakeholder in the business. When you accept that every single person who interacts with your business has a stake in the results, you acquire an expansive viewpoint that lets you plan and implement continuous improvement within your organization.
Cycles of Continuous Improvement
If you’ve performed a cursory search of improvement processes, you’ve likely stumbled across a variety of acronyms, buzzwords and ideologies that spring from a similar four-step process popularized in the previous century. Ideas such as Kaizen, and Six Sigma both work to improve performance, and should be considered valid methods of continual growth. However, when you understand that they all spring from the same flowchart, you can adapt these ideas according to the needs of your company.
PDCA, also known as the “Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle,” was created during the World War II era and popularized during the 1950s, when companies sought to improve profits during the post-war boom of prosperity. Each part of the cycle leads into the next, with the last part leading back into the planning phase, implying that the process doesn’t end.
Regardless of the improvement philosophy to which we subscribe, these four steps provide the backbone of all modern improvement cycles, including industries ranging from banking to healthcare. Systems that cater to manufacturing improvement may not be the most effective way to proceed for other industries. As such, identifying the best way to apply modern PDCA improvement cycles revolves around the goals we wish to achieve for our business and our personnel.
Leading the Performance Push
The unilateral implementation of improvement processes without complete inclusion leads to limited results. Often, it’s said that to be a great leader, you must first learn to be a great follower. In this case, following our own philosophies of continual self-improvement alongside other colleagues shows that everyone within the organization is held accountable to the same principles.
This increases the likelihood that we will opt into the process of continual self-improvement, rather than feeling coerced into dealing with a negative situation, such as the annual performance reviews of old.