“If you are a leader, your team watches you. Do you actually mean what you say? The team will continuously look for clues and inconsistencies in your message and your actions. If they find those inconsistencies, you’ll soon witness a rise in fear. It doesn’t take much fear to wipe out that feel safe culture, and suddenly you’re commanding a being safe culture.” – Joy, Inc. Richard Sheridan
Consistency leads to Sustainment
Inconsistency in our organization may be the quickest method of squashing a CI initiative. A clear message supported with consistent actions defines the expectations and standards that drive continuous improvement programs. Employees need to know what to expect and what is asked of them. Mixed messages and grey areas inspire the variability within organizations that can undermine the results we desire. Defined standards supported by accountability stabilize that daily rhythm of continuous improvement.
Finding this consistency and rhythm of your CI initiative alleviates the organizational fear of the unknown. There will always be a level of chaos or disruption in every organization. A CI culture identifies the process to address these disruptions and abnormalities. That process and new routines, can become that one dependable and constant factor in a world of chaos that any level of leadership or employee can lean on in a moment of crisis.
Employee participation to a new process is essential, but perhaps may even spark a rise in fear of failure, as the execution of these routines and behaviors are potentially out of our comfort zone. It may even be implied or misunderstood that failure equals punishment. Perhaps the most important key to a successful and sustainable CI culture is the engagement of our workforce! A statistic published by the Marketing Research Firm, Aberdeen suggests that Companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue. Implied punishment and fear is counterintuitive to CI success.
Utilizing tools such as coaching, visual management and reward and recognition provide an organization the opportunity to alleviate fear, encourage ownership, shift cultural habits and foster engagement. These tools are part of that daily CI rhythm and consistency necessary to close the gaps and sustain a CI culture.
“It is a journey that will never end unless we let it.” Rich Teerlink – CEO Harley Davidson 1999
Leaders inherently play the pivotal role of successful CI transformation. The journey starts in the day to day routines and activities that we perform as an organization – these “habits” secure the commitment of the leadership team and build the foundation for a new organizational culture. Accountability provides us an opportunity to reinforce our cultural habits, foster engagement and to provide sustainment. CI is a journey. It is a new way of working and thinking. It is a process. World Class results are the outcome of adhering to a good process!