4 steps to Continuous Improvement in the workplace

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Continuous Improvement In the Workplace

Continuous improvement in the workplace starts with you. And then with your team, right?


To begin with, imagine if you could change your team’s mindset.

If you could create a work culture that proactively seeks to solve problems, continuously, small steps at a time.

What would happen?

This mindset would mean your company could faster improve efficiency, reduce costs, and get happier employees while at it.

Here are 4 steps, more valid than ever during COVID:

1. Seek continuous improvement: Step by step

Continuous improvement isn’t about setting a high pace.

It’s about finding a rhythm that works for your organization, it’s about changing everyone’s mindset to a systematic way of finding better ways to do things.

Above all, to find out how to work better as a team.

What we hear from our users is that over-explaining the Why helps. Consequently, why do you want to continuously improve?

To begin with, it has to be clear for your employees what is in it for THEM.

Other examples involve showing, hands-on, that employees are important and that their thoughts, ideas and questions all matter.

But how do you best show this?

By taking action to fix the stuff their employees think needs fixing at work. They use the recipe of measure, talk, and fit it. Then repeat.

Everything will be more fun if you get your team to take a greater interest in the group’s results and achievements, instead of just the individual members’ goals.

Additionally, many employ the KISS principle. Keep It Simple Stupid! To begin with, forget the 80-pages super-plan that no one is going to read.

Simply make small incremental changes to your workplace, step by step.

Avoid buzz words if you can. Leading with “change management”, lean, Kaizen or abstract concepts like “Continuous Process Improvement”… what mental boxes are your employees or fellow coworkers putting this in?

To summarize, be a doer and show practically the benefits to be gained.

Build trust, and adjust as you go along.

Above all, truly listen to your team.

2. Open and ongoing dialogue

Our best leaders share progress and result with everyone. They embrace a transparent attitude at work.

They have a tenacious commitment to continuous improvement. Therefore, they encourage everyone to make their voice heard and chip in. 

From the smallest ideas, all the way to strategy input.

Sometimes the loudest voices aren’t the ones that need to be heard the most.

Neutral data helps to deal with employees who feel that “everything sucks“. Our users do their best to find formats where everyone feels confident to share.

It could be an informal chat with the first colleague you meet in the corridor, all-hands meetings, group meetings… In fact, our people data that show that companies that use face-to-face interactions are the ones that improve their employee morale the fastest. 

Generally, an ongoing dialogue where everyone shares their finding will help your team to learn from others mistakes and wins.

This way you can improve your effectiveness and productivity to meet both internal and external needs.

Above all, don’t fear conflict, not speaking up can result in more conflicts later on.

Just address it in the open.

Related: examples from companies that use continuous improvement

continuous improvements examples

3. A great workplace is everyone’s job

Do you have a company culture where people have more ‘green’ days or ‘red’ days?

You as an employer have the obligation to provide the conditions for people to thrive at work, but let’s face it, you can only take it so far: Motivation also has to come from within, you can’t force people to be motivated at work, right?

People need to want to be held accountable.

We are driven by intrinsic motivators, not the stick and the carrot.

Great teams and leaders make sure that everyone in the group is held accountable to their commitments – no one wants to let down a coworker.

What would happen if you paved the way for people to find their voice within the organization? If you could get themselves to start defining both problems and solutions at work to continuously improve?

In other words, don’t just criticize, try to suggest an improvement.

Well, it would probably give them a sense of ownership, which would lead to a higher level of achieved business objectives.

How can employees be involved in continuous improvement? We love it when we see leaders that give up some of their control and empower their employees!

4. Understand what motivates your employees

Best-selling author Daniel Pink lists the three elements of true motivation.

Performance increases dramatically when these three elements are present and promoted:

  • Autonomy, or the desire to be self-directed, assuming we are built with inner drive;
  • Mastery, we want to get better at things that are important to us; and
  • Purpose, people who find purpose at work unlock the highest level of the motivation game. We get more motivated by connecting to a cause that’s larger or more meaningful beyond ourselves. This is when money isn’t an issue any longer (e.g. provided your team gets a decent paycheck, that they have “enough”). Motivated staff will dramatically smooth the process of continuous improvements.

What would you improve to make your workplace better?

Would your team pick the same?

When you understand what motivates your employees, it’s easier to promote continuous improvement in your business.

Continuous workplace improvement

Being better than we were yesterday is a nice goal for an organization.

So how can you know if your team is really going in the right direction? Is real progress being made? Are your initiatives working?

If you start heading in a downward spiral, what mechanisms do you have to detect the trend in time so you can quickly take action and get the plan back on track?

You can’t start changing things without knowing if the actions you take have an impact or not.

You need analytics.

Related: Continuous improvements examples: enhancing productivity in the workplace

An ongoing People KPI means you can monitor employee morale trends in your business while testing new things to see how your employees react.

Thus you can experiment!

With a mindset of continuous workplace improvement, you can improve your company’s bottom line while getting a company culture with more ‘green’ days at work.

Hence find new ways to improve team building.

So when is the best time to start promoting continuous improvement at your workplace?

Well, just go for it.

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Rebecca Lundin, CelpaxHej! I’m Rebecca. HR analytics enthusiast and co-owner at Celpax, a for-profit helping workplaces promote continuous improvement. What would you improve to make your workplace better? Let’s share some continuous improvements examples on Twitter!

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