Many businesses in the UK talk quite a bit about their commitment to continuous improvement teams. Yet outside of a few weekend strategy sessions, little is actually done. Most of the discussions also take place at an extremely high level in the firm, far from the points where staff would honestly indicate that process and operational continuous improvement teams would do the most good. To stop this inefficiency and truly focus in on delivering real business enhancements, continuous improvement team facilitators are needed.
In quite a lot of firms, the people doing the job know a lot about how to improve the work, but they are rarely asked for their input. General calls for help may generate a few comments, but workers can easily sniff out the lack of sincerity in corporate speak about worker involvement in improvement initiatives. Not feeling as though their input would be at all appreciated or ever put into action, employees keep mum about valuable potential improvements rather than creating effective continuous improvement teams.
Enter consultants. Outside players can assemble continuous improvement teams with sincerity and seriousness to their purposes. In our own work, when we bring continuous improvement teams together, many participants say it is the first time they have been taken seriously for years. Recognizing an outlet at last for their input and suggestions, many workers unleash a storm of suggestions for more efficiently managing costs, serving customers, and solving operational challenges.
Of course, a large part of developing effective continuous improvement teams is management of expectations. Establishing from the start what can be realistically expected to be achieved in a session is critical. This keeps employees satisfied with the process and willing to continue to participate in an engaged manner.
It is also important in continuous improvement teams to keep the whole picture in mind. Even as team members zero in on small details, facilitators can provide feedback about some of the good work being done at other levels and by the senior team members. This helps to prevent improvement team sessions transforming themselves into therapeutic venting sessions about other areas of the organisation.
By bringing in a consulting team to help create effective continuous improvement teams throughout the organisation, your management group sends a strong signal about how seriously improvements are being taken. The sincerity can be felt, and the results of a trusting and engaged staff on operational processes can be astonishing. United and focused, workers’ can take on even major process reorganisations with aplomb.
Rather than talking about the value of continuous improvement teams here in the UK, why not actually create some value in your continuous improvement teams? Setting up the right environment, signalling an open mind to suggestions, and making team members feel empowered can be the keys to unlocking real value in the process. The earlier you start getting serious about real improvements, the longer your firm will have to benefit from the results.