As seasoned lean leaders are well aware, the concept of continuous improvement is a major tenet of lean management.
As part of this crucial concept, leadership must have an eagle eye when it comes to spotting potential areas for improvement. Most aspects of your organization’s production process should be examined regularly and assessed for the value they add to the workflow. If the step/position/process lacks value (or it’s negligible), it may be worth axing in the interest of streamlining.
While this is an integral concept to implementing lean management successfully, continuous improvement isn’t an initiative just for executive-level leadership. Improvement-oriented programs often span entire organizations, which means every employee should be aware and invested in its success.
Knowing all this, it may seem like the answer to the question in the title is blatantly obvious: yes, it’s integral to get employee buy in for continuous improvement. However, achieving that is much more complicated.
Creating a Continuous Improvement Culture
The benefits of cultivating an environment that inherently encourages improvement in all areas are innumerable. Employees who understand the purpose of improvement will soon start viewing their own tasks and projects through a lean lens and work to make positive changes without the need for any external motivation. And that goal alone is worth the effort it takes to achieve buy in from your workers.
Employees an be understandably hesitant at first — they may not understand how such initiatives will affect them (or their jobs). Which is why it’s even more important to be clear in communicating an improvement project’s purpose, goals, steps and how particular employees can specifically contribute to its success.
Engage and enlist employees rather than trying to convince them of an improvement program’s merits. Enlistment helps nurture ownership over the project and encourages employee buy in. Also take the time to consider the different personality types that constitute your workforce — each type may react in their own way to drastic changes in the workplace.
Obtaining Employee Buy In
Obviously getting every employee invested in any continuous improvement program can be an uphill battle. It’s never as simple as starting an initiative and simply expecting all of your workers to fall in line.
While frequent and clear communication and dedicated training are two of the best weapons in your arsenal to encourage worker engagement in your improvement initiative, there are numerous ways to pique employees’ interest.
In our previous blog post, we discuss several ways to get workers invested and engaged in improvement, regardless of the specifics of the initiative. Using this as a guide, managers can amp up their chances that an improvement project will gain traction across the organization and eventually be a success in meeting its goals.
The Bottom Line
While there may be inevitable bumps in the road, the journey toward continuous improvement is one worth taking.