How To Encourage Process Improvement
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Changing how you ask questions can help you get new answers to old questions, as well as inspire action in others. Asking good questions is an excellent way to gain understanding of something or someone.
This article will talk about some easy ways to encourage process improvement at your work. While these tips may seem simple, they have helped many professionals improve their workplace processes and systems.
You may be able to pick up some of these tools from colleagues or through social media, but most come from direct experience with them. So, let’s dive in!
1) Ask open-ended questions
These question types are important because they require more information than a standard question like “What did you do today?” An open-ended question asks for much more detail, making it easier to receive that info.
Some examples of open-ended questions include:
» What was the goal you were trying to achieve this week? » What steps did you take to try to reach that goal? » What happened next?
Open questions also allow for additional comments made during the conversation, creating opportunities to learn more about what influenced the other person and why they took certain actions. This adds depth to the discussion and helps you understand your coworkers better.
2) Listen intently
The best way to ask a question is by paying close attention to the answer.
As mentioned earlier, you can motivate people by giving them reasons to improve how they do their jobs. If employees perceive that management does not expect excellence, then they will likely give up trying to be excellent.
If your colleagues are constantly being praised for their efforts but never given clear guidelines or opportunities to hone their skills, it may feel like a constant battle to keep putting in the effort.
You can help change this perception by providing as many examples of good work as possible. Praise those achievements publicly so that others can learn from them.
Give regular feedback and ask if anyone has ideas about how to make things better. By showing an interest in improving the workplace, you’ll encourage other people to do the same.
Make it clear that there will be consequences
As mentioned before, leading with rewards can sometimes hinder improvement. If someone is trying hard but failing to improve their performance, you may feel inclined to remove the reward or give them a lower one next time to encourage more success.
This could backfire though.
By giving poor performers a low goal for the next week, they may decide not to try at all – leaving your organization without their skills.
If this happens frequently, it may indicate a lack of trust in the individual’s ability to perform their job well. Or maybe they just don’t like working for people and want to prove that they are incapable of doing their jobs.
Either way, it isn’t a healthy situation for anyone involved.
Monitor processes closely
A successful process improvement initiative requires close monitoring of existing procedures, meetings, and people involved in the process. If necessary, these needs to be adjusted or replaced with new procedures, meetings, or individuals who can effectively carry out such changes.
Business owners often feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that has to get done every day and the constant stream of demands they face. This makes it hard for them to focus only on one task at a time, which is a key component in improving any process.
By having several tasks spread across different employees and departments, you will not only have to deal with each individual’s responsibilities, but also find ways to make sure all of the parts are working together efficiently.
This isn’t easy, but it is possible through systematic use of tools and strategies.
Encourage them to take baby steps
Changing how people behave is never an easy task, but it can be done! The best way to inspire improvement is by offering small rewards for good behavior.
By giving people little tokens they feel motivated to keep doing what you want them to do. This works beautifully in workplace environments, as well as improving relationships with friends and family.
In both cases, reward someone for good work and keeping you posted on what they are working on will get more cooperation and effort from them.
The rewards don’t need to be extravagant- a nice compliment or a few extra dollars goes a long way when motivating people. Keep track of your successful strategies so that you can add this to your arsenal soon.
Make it clear that there are no quick fixes
Changing someone’s behavior is never easy, but if you make changes with the right motivation, you can eventually achieve success.
Changing someone’s process cannot be done quickly unless they want to do it. You have to motivate them by telling them how bad their current procedure is and what benefits will come from changing it.
By having these two fundamentals down, creating a change program becomes much easier.
Something important to remember when encouraging people to make changes is not to put too much pressure on them or expect fast results. This could backfire and hurt your relationships.
Instead, keep things casual and informal so people feel more comfortable talking about difficult topics. Also, use past experiences as examples instead of general statements like ‘people in this country spend way too much money.
Help them create a plan
The second way to encourage process improvement is by helping your team come up with a plan. You can do this by asking questions such as, “What are our biggest weaknesses?” or "What are the issues we're facing right now?"
By creating some sort of action plan, you give individuals a source of encouragement by telling them what they need to do to fix the problem. It also creates an environment where people feel that their input matters, since they have a say in how things get fixed.
It's important to be clear about what needs to be done before offering suggestions. If there isn't clearly defined progress, then no one will feel motivated to make changes.
You may find it helpful to use motivational theory to see why encouraging others to improve sometimes fails. For example, you could talk about the sunk cost fallacy — giving someone too much credit for past efforts. Or, you could describe power imbalance- when one person has too much influence over another.
This article offers tips for helping teams achieve process improvements.
As mentioned earlier, your colleagues are a valuable source of information when it comes to process improvement. They can offer helpful tips or even tell you how they improved a particular part of the job.
By giving them appropriate praise for their efforts, you’ll help them feel good about themselves and inspire them to keep up the hard work in future.
Provide meaningful feedback that is focused on the task at hand and not on someone else. For example, if someone took time to make sure his colleague had lunch before going home, then applaud this effort, but also recognize the other person’s responsibility by saying something like “I should have done my own paperwork first before leaving, so I will make sure to do that next time.”
The more your colleagues rely on you for guidance and assistance, the more willing they will be to implement changes that were once suggested to them.
Use it as an opportunity for both parties to improve
Even if someone doesn’t agree with all of another person's ideas, they can at least appreciate the effort that was put into them.
People in business are often in very competitive environments. There is always something else being pitched or proposed, and people have different opinions about what makes the best product or service.
In fact, there is a lot of competition within companies themselves – two departments may want opposite things, for example.
When you look around a company, you will usually see lots of processes done the same way. This goes even more so when no one has ever asked to change anything!
But this kind of silence isn't helpful to anyone- not only do those working under the process feel like everything is just going unnoticed, but the rest of the organization loses out because these practices don’t help create better products or services.
By having open conversations about ways to make changes, everyone benefits.