How to Foster, Sustain and Strengthen a Continuous Improvement Culture During Continued Lockdowns
A strong culture is imperative to successfully navigating and managing strenuous times. As extended lockdowns and changing working environments continue to create disruption to workplace culture, the current climate provides a unique opportunity to strengthen our internal structures that guide our people towards True North. But with any change, comes a level of stress and anxiety, which is why it is essential to implement strategies to foster, sustain and strengthen a culture of Continuous Improvement, particularly during the current working conditions.
Shift the mindset to change for the better
In an ever-changing working climate, we need to create an environment with a positive attitude towards change. This may require taking a step back to look at everything from a different point of view, redesigning your current systems and processes, in order to change for the better. Shifting the mindset and culture of your organisation to embrace adaptability, and see difficult situations as opportunities for growth and development, will not only allow for your workforce to see change as a positive, but it will also ensure the sustainability of your business through a strengthened and strategically aligned internal culture.
“Improvement usually means doing something that we have never done before.”
– Shigeo Shingo
Articulate and reinforce your culture
It is imperative that your business stay true to your culture, and not let lockdowns or changing working conditions erode what your organisation values. Having a clear vision that is aligned to your strategic goals will provide the direction and purpose necessary for articulating your Continuous Improvement culture to your workforce. When you clearly communicate the ‘why your people will be more committed to change, and pivoting their behaviours, because you will have inspired a workforce that is committed to your purpose – because when your people feel supported, this makes for an engaged and empowered workforce, and this means you will have established a robust foundation for business success.
The importance of showing the way
The key to achieving organisational transformation is leadership. Engage your people through trusted leadership and responsive governance, by showing the way, not telling the way. As leaders of change, we have a responsibility to lead by example, to inspire our people to continuously improve and to empower organisational transformation. If being innovative and having out-of-the-box solutions is valued in your organisation, build a courageous culture where people feel safe to put forth suggestions, because you have shown them that their opinions will not be immediately shut down. It is the leadership team that is essential to aligning values and behaviours that drive the organisational culture towards True North.
“Only three things happen naturally in organisations: friction, confusion and underperformance. Everything else requires Leadership.”
– Peter Drucker
Communicate regularly and openly
The current climate limits the ability for people to move and interact with each other, so it becomes more necessary than ever, to communicate regularly and openly. Continuous Improvement starts with looking after our own people, so create a culture of psychological safety. Caring for their wellbeing and building a foundation of trust, will cultivate a sense of community, and lead to a positive emotional pulse. Staying attuned to how your employees feel and being aware of their needs, will also allow you to proactively address any potential concerns. This is the perfect time to leverage Technology for Continuous Improvement – hold virtual huddles and keep everyone involved in the entire process, to create a greater sense of connectedness. Not only will this help protect against mental health issues triggered by isolation, but it will also encourage a culture that inspires creativity and innovation.
It is necessary to identify, understand, reduce or remove any barriers that are inhibiting a Continuous Improvement culture. Internal barriers can develop when there is lack of information, lack of resources, insufficient executive alignment or difficulty in fostering employee engagement, and without effective planning and management of the process, these can create a resistance to change. It is therefore crucial to strategically plan for your future state and understand the types of resistance to change that need to be managed.
If you are interested in delving deeper into strategic deployment for goal alignment, join our next online Innovative Talks workshop on overcoming resistance to change through Planning for Continuous Improvement Success on the 29th October. This is a Complimentary Live-Online Workshop run by Parth Bommakanti and features guest speakers from VISY who will share their experience with overcoming resistance to change throughout their Continuous Improvement Journey.