Continuously looking for ways to improve processes and outcomes
What is it?
Continuous improvement is an approach to work in which the manager continually strives to improve processes and outcomes. Managers need to be vigilant to reduce inefficiency and increase productivity, both in terms of quantity and quality.
Why is it important?
In today’s free market system, there is always a new competitor or product coming on the scene seeking to dethrone industry leaders. Customers can be fickle and need to be constantly won over and impressed with superior service, value, and quality. Whether your customers are internal or external, you want them to be thrilled with your product or service. In an age where people can easily post online comments or ratings, negative evaluations can be devastating.
Use Objective Metrics
Managers need to be metric driven. Each important task or project needs objective criteria to measure both progress and outcomes. Without concrete metrics that everyone is aware of and committed to, it can be difficult to hold people accountable to high performance standards.
Conduct After-Action Reviews
Workgroups and teams should have regular after action reviews. After every major milestone of a project you should ask: “What are we doing well?”, “What are we not doing well?”, and “How can we improve?” The answers to those questions will provide concrete strategies to improve the functioning of the group or team.
It is human nature to resist change. We like things to stay the same. That way they are predictable and manageable … even if they are frustrating and ineffective. In contrast, managers need to be change agents. The most effective managers continually ask themselves and their teams how things can be improved. They rarely settle for good enough and constantly push for better performance which requires the willingness to change. Although others might be willing to settle for complacence and the status quo, managers need to lead the charge for ongoing change and process improvement.