Last week I was running a workshop with a group of events’ managers.
One of the topics we discussed was spotting opportunities for improvements.
They were all relatively new in their roles, and were worried that any changes they tried to introduce would be resisted.
People generally don’t like change, particularly when they’ve been doing a job in the same way for years.
There’s a multitude of reasons why people are reluctant to change. And it’s not an unusual response to be wary of any change.
Whilst some might rise to the challenge you’re just as likely to have people who’ll resist any change to the norm.
But changes don’t need to be radical or massive to make a difference.
Making small continuous improvements all add up and can make a big difference.
Here’s a perfect example of continuous improvements. Back in the 1950s Formula 1 pit stops used to take in the region of 67 seconds. Now they take only 2-3 seconds.
How have they achieved this?
By finding ways to make incremental changes, and refining the process.
One of the objections I hear time and again is:
“But, we’ve always done it this way”
Can you imagine if Formula 1 teams took that attitude?
If you need to make changes you need to get buy-in.
Here are two ways to help you get buy-in
One of the first things is to explain why.
Why the change.
Not why it’s important from a company perspective, but focusing from the team member’s perspective on WIIFM. I.e. what’s in it for me?
What they really want to know is how it will impact them.
We often believe the benefits are obvious. But they will often focus on the negatives first.
It’s something new to learn; it will mean more work; I’m too old to change; it’s too complicated; we tried it before and it didn’t work, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it;
Help your team realise what they will gain. Will it make things easier? Will it free up time so I can finish earlier or allow time to focus on other things that are important to me? Will it mean fewer complaints? Will it mean more tips? Will it make my job more enjoyable? Will it make me more confident? Will it give me more pride in the job I do?
Get them involved
Getting your team involved in continuous improvements has 3 benefits:
- It gets them involved early on, and gives them a focus.
- It taps into their perspective, which may highlight things you were blissfully unaware of
- Because they’ve suggested them you’ll get far more buy-in to implement any changes that result
So, ask you team to come forward with ideas, suggestions, recommendations of where small changes can be made.
Maybe simply shaving 30 seconds off a task that’s done repeatedly, freeing up valuable time to spend elsewhere; reporting equipment that needs repairs or upgrading; refining a systems that misses important steps, or needs adjusting to reflect new procedures; removing a bottleneck, or simply devising a checklist or SOP for a routine task to make it easy to achieve consistency.
Be aware that when a task has been done a certain way for any length of time, unless it causes a major inconvenience people simply get used to things that way. Flush out anything that’s standing in the way of them doing a brilliant job or impacts them, their colleagues or customer in any way.
This often highlights frustrations they have in the system or with current resources, levels of authority, existing skills or conflicting priorities.
What would they improve if they could? To help people feel comfortable to make suggestions ask questions that allow them to take off the blinkers.
- What would you do if it was your business?
- What would you do if we had an endless supply of cash?
- What would you do if you had a magic wand?
Although all these questions might result in ‘pie in the sky’ ideas, nine times out of 10 you’ll end up with some ideas you can use in some way.
Take Action on continuous improvements
If you only do one thing: Invite your team to put forward suggestions on improvements, however small.
“Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”
– Henry Ford