If your company
is like most, you have identified opportunities for improvement,
designed to close the gap between where you are and where you want
to be. This list could have resulted from a change in the
marketplace, customer feedback, 3rd-party assessment or your own
good business judgment. You KNOW what needs to be done.
Additionally, you have commissioned a team of internal resources
to implement the required improvement programs.
though, when you check on the status of these programs, you find
they aren’t progressing as well as you’d like. Delays can result
from a number of causes, including:
- Lack of "outside the box"
- Fear of change
- Turf battles
- Conflict with team member day
- Lack of management / executive
The project team,
even if they recognize the reasons for the delay, may not share
them with you directly. In this article, we will review some of
the above challenges and provide approaches for addressing each.
"outside the box" thinking
This issue often
results from employees whose attitude is "this is the way we’ve
always done things." To avoid this situation, you need to make
sure that the employees involved in the change effort know
specifically WHY this initiative is required. They need to have
the same visceral understanding as executive management does. Is
the long-term success and viability of your company at stake? Then
tell them! "We either need to change the way we are doing business
or we will each need to find another employer within X months."
Treat your team as adults and let them know what the company is up
against and the importance of the program that you have
commissioned them to drive.
Fear of change
The reality is
that people may fear for their jobs. When employees are assigned
to your continuous improvement efforts, they must each possess a
high degree of confidence since a possible outcome is the dramatic
change or loss of some jobs (including those of the team members).
However, if you have assigned the "best and brightest" of your
resources to this team, then the reality is that another
meaningful role will very likely be identified for them. As such,
a ground rule to consider for this effort is for each team member
to assume that their job is gone prior to getting started. This
will help to free the team members up to design the processes,
roles and responsibilities that are best suited to meet the needs
of your customer base and business. Finally, you will need to
consider providing a reward or some form of commitment that "they
will be taken care of" regardless of how the changes prescribed by
the team impact their job.
"managers" look at the number of employees in their organization
as a basis of power and prestige. However, what your company may
need is a redeployment of resources to better meet the needs of
your customers. Use great care when assigning personnel to this
team. You require "leadership" qualities, people who aren’t trying
to hang on to their "power base" but are willing to apply the
available resources in the best way to meet the objectives of the
initiative. As such, it will make sense to set the stage in the
beginning that team members may come out with more or fewer people
on their team, and that this is NOT necessarily a reflection of
how each of them is valued individually.
The next article
in this series will discuss the remaining challenges identified
above. Future articles will cover establishing the proper working
environment for the "change team" and creating a "road-map" to
guide the change effort.
If you would like
to learn more about how to ensure the success of your continuous
improvement effort, feel free to give us a call.