How Are Employees Involved In The Continuous Improvement Process

January 6, 2023

The term “continuous improvement” was coined by Frederick Taylor, an industrial engineer who worked for the New York City Subway system back in 1900. He designed what would come to be known as the time-and-motion study, which is now considered the standard way of measuring employee efficiency at work.

His studies focused on how much time each individual worker spent performing his or her job and analyzing whether that amount of time was efficient. By looking more into how quickly employees completed their tasks and how efficiently they operated while doing so, he could find ways to make things run faster with less effort.

This concept has since been adapted to other areas outside of workplace productivity, such as education and healthcare.

Improvements can be made anywhere — even at your place of employment. Many companies have internal departments that are able to implement CIPs due to these studies being conducted before, making it possible to create new programs based off past research.

Generalizations about how workers perform their jobs exist, but never before have there been tools available to help individuals and groups within a company identify all of the weaknesses and potential improvements.

That changes today because you have them here! Read on to see how easy it is to get started implementing CIPs at your workplace. Once you do, you will start seeing results in your organization’t performance soon enough to know just how successful it will be.

Encourage employees to be honest

how are employees involved in the continuous improvement process

As mentioned earlier, your organization will not see continuous improvement unless there are changes that need to happen. These changes can come from within or outside of the company- internal processes and systems, external relationships and collaborations, etc.

One of the biggest reasons why people don’t make changes is because they feel like they're too small an element to have an impact. But believe me when I say it – you are important to this process!

By changing how you do things, you help create an environment where others are able to change how they go about doing their jobs as well. This creates a sense of empowerment which helps motivate other individuals in the department/team.

You also show those around you that you are willing to take responsibility for making changes needed to keep the business moving forward. It demonstrates leadership qualities that most leaders have said they admire.

So what can you do to promote employee engagement and CI? Here are 5 ways to get started.

Make it clear what is expected

how are employees involved in the continuous improvement process

As discussed, leadership sets an example for others to follow. When you make changes or improvements, people will notice! They may even ask about them, which can be a source of stress since they may not agree with your decision.

That’s why it is important to ensure that everyone knows exactly what their job responsibilities are. This way, when someone does inquire about the change, they won’t feel like they don’t have enough information.

It also helps to know who needs to be informed next. For instance, if there is going to be a major project, then marketing should be notified first so they can spread the word. Or, if there is going to be an internal review process, then HR should be made aware so they can prepare documents and questions.

When people do not know their own responsibility, they become distracted and unsure of what to do. It creates chaos and confusion, which only benefits no one but the person making the changes.

Provide guidance

how are employees involved in the continuous improvement process

As mentioned earlier, your employees will contribute to the continuous improvement process by providing feedback. When they do this, you should listen and evaluate their comments seriously. If something seems trivial or not important to them, it is unlikely that it is indeed important to you as an employee of the company and therefore leader.

If there are changes made that don’t seem quite right to someone, chances are they won’t feel very comfortable making similar changes themselves. It could be because they believe that what was done before was enough, so anything different would mean bad things for their job. Or perhaps they don’t agree with the change and want to see it dropped.

By having open conversations about issues, you can learn a lot about your workplace and yourself as a leader.

Celebrate successes

A continuous improvement process has no end, so it is easy to get distracted by the next project that needs to be done. When you are part of the process that is improving something, this can easily happen.

Too often, people leave their role within an organization with little praise or acknowledgement. This lack of appreciation makes them feel unimportant and like they are wasting time and energy on projects that will not receive recognition.

As leader of an organization, there are times when you have to tell someone they did a bad job. Sometimes this happens even if you don’t want to say it, such as when someone else gives you a poor review and you must respond.

But for the individual being criticized, hearing kudos may take some time to occur, especially if they believe that person was just trying to protect themselves from getting fired.

It takes a lot of inner strength to endure such criticism, which is why it is important to celebrate achievements every now and then. Let your colleagues know about the accomplishments that earn compliments!

Ask around – find out who knows about what going on in the workplace and let those individuals know how good someone performed. You could also ask if anyone noticed any changes in the work environment due to improved performance.

If possible, give credit where credit is due, but remember to keep conversations professional and casual. Avoid mentioning pay raises unless asked directly.

Be consistent

how are employees involved in the continuous improvement process

Consistency is one of the most important things to be when engaging in continuous improvement. This means no matter what you are doing, your employees should perceive that you are always working towards improving the company or product, and yourself as a leader.

If this isn’t the case then people will not feel motivated to contribute their efforts. They will also likely notice changes in how you interact with them – if you are showing discontent or lack of confidence, they will do likewise.

Consistent engagement from top down sets an example that can’t be ignored. It shows that leadership believes in the organization and its future success, which creates motivation for others.

Ask for feedback

how are employees involved in the continuous improvement process

A continuous improvement process requires open, honest communication. This includes asking questions to determine how well your current practices are working and what can be done better. You may also need to make changes to things you're doing if they aren't working properly.

By having these conversations, employees learn about their jobs and you as manager get input from those under you that you're performing your job correctly.

This not only helps them feel more confident in themselves but it boosts employee morale and engagement. If people do not feel like their ideas matter then they will keep quiet instead of offering suggestions.

Conversations help remove barriers to improving the workplace and increase productivity. Questions such as "What is keeping you from achieving your goal?" or "How could we accomplish this easier?" promote healthy dialogue.

Take action on feedback

how are employees involved in the continuous improvement process

As discussed, offering and accepting constructive criticism is an important part of improving your job performance. However, taking action on this information is another key component. If you do not take action on what people tell you about how to improve your job performance, then you are wasting your time trying to gain improvement.

If you find something that someone else did that didn’t work for them, why don’t you try it? Or if you have a suggestion, put some effort into making it sound good and see if they will agree with you.

But remember, no one can always be successful, so use common sense when allowing suggestions. You must weigh the benefits against the costs and determine which ones are worth it!

Another thing to keep in mind is that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and thus things that worked for “you” may not work as well for others. Just because something works for someone else around here does not mean it would be effective at yours.

Focus on the process

how are employees involved in the continuous improvement process

A large part of this comes down to how employees are involved in the continuous improvement process. You may have heard stories about companies that implement an annual performance review as one of their most significant improvements. This is because it gives people a chance to talk about what they’re doing well, and get some feedback from superiors.

It also allows for conversations around career growth and opportunities. While these things can be done at any time, having a set date makes sure everyone is ready for them.

Another way internal processes like the annual review contribute to CI is by creating open discussions. People feel more free to ask questions or give input when there’s a formal event scheduled.

This doesn’t mean every employee gets a bronze award for good work, but rather active collaborations and respect. When people know that their ideas matter, they’ll keep sharing them.

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