Leaders in every organization, small or big, play an important role to help create a culture of continuous improvement. It is about the difference a leader can make. It is about an experience, the individual as a leader, can create beyond just a basic job role.
Creating a culture of continuous improvement is also about building a strong and meaningful relationship with our people. It is also about being available to our people when our people need us and not when we need them.
Creating a culture of continuous improvement must start at the top and at every level of leadership. Stakeholder ‘buy in’ is a critical aspect of any continuous improvement initiative. We must empower our people and involve them in the improvement process if we want to create a strong and meaningful culture of continuous improvement and this will be in the interest of the organization we work for, the society we live in and in the interest of customers, stakeholders and everyone.
What are a few basic and co-related aspects that may make the difference to be an efficient and effective leader?
1. ‘How can I help’ approach:
Many a brilliant ideas and potential improvement suggestions are lost because we ignore or avoid an important discussion to explore the possibilities of an idea. This may be due to a past experience or due to a (second hand) perception about our people. Ignoring or avoiding discussions or being defensive would not help anyone.
How many times do we really listen to a problem or a challenge our people face? How many times do we listen to complaints and feedback?
Leaders must be open for voice of customers and voice of processes. Communication, not reaction, solves problem. Leaders must be open to communicate with ‘how can I help’ approach that makes the difference.
2. Develop ‘problem-solving ability’
When we listen to problems and understand the voice of customers, leaders must also think about potential root causes and potential failure modes that may cause problems. Leader can then identify potential solutions and controls.
It is complaining, if we only talk about a problem and do not think about a solution. Leaders must create an environment where the people doing the work think about problems and what they can do about solving them. Building human resources with the required training, skills and knowledge and to help our people develop ‘problem-solving ability’ makes the difference.
3. Look at ‘what’ is wrong
When we listen to our people, leaders must drive the discussion to look at what is wrong and not who is wrong. When we talk about who is wrong, we get into a trouble getting along with our people and that’s all we have around, people.
When the focus is on what is wrong, we move forward to find a way out and take corrective and preventive actions. Leaders must build trust and work for a common cause. We must treat people as human assets to create a meaningful culture of continuous improvement.
4. Recognize capability
When our people give suggestions, leaders must not take it as teach back. Learning is an active and never ending process, No one can teach us unless we decide to learn. ‘Do not teach me’ approach or ‘I know it’ approach would not only destroy an idea but also destroy lots of potential ideas and kill the motivation.
People learn different things from different people at different places. If we create a culture of continuous improvement, we will be able to incorporate learning and the knowledge base to use them effectively — to improve the work and the workplace.
Recognizing and accepting the capabilities/competencies of our people make the difference in our creating a strong and meaningful culture of continuous improvement.
| Personal Excellence | Process Excellence | Spiritual Excellence |
Make the difference: Please share your ideas and views as a comment below. Different opinions and suggestions add value and would help all of us to revise and review what we already know and what we do not know.
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Ram Lonkar is a Senior Quality Analyst with WNS Global Services. He works in India, Australia, the UK and U.S. in IT / IT-ES industry – with a focus on Business Optimization, Process Excellence, Business Transformation, Process Re-engineering, Project and IT Service Management, and Continuous Improvement Methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma, and Agile. He is certified as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt; Accredited by A.S.C.B (E), and ITIL V3 2011 Foundation Certified.