5 Strategies to Cultivate a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement

Many business leaders and entrepreneurs hold strict ideas of what success means to them and how to cultivate it, but you wouldn’t get there without people to create value as a collective in motion. All companies cultivate a work culture, whether they intend to or not.

When conscious intention plays into a vision for interconnection, much more can be achieved beyond the standard expectation of showing up and doing your part. What culture does your company need? What will make your staff thrive? Growth is vital to success, and an impactful and positive work culture is born from the collaborative effort of professionals who continually strive to learn and develop. Here are five ways to create a culture of continuous improvement.

  1. Reduce the Red Tape

Corporate red tape holds employees back if the company is bound and determined to remain set in its ways, which also obstructs and hinders growth for the employer. Red tape binds the mouths of talented professionals who see opportunities for improvement in processes and policies and may present revolutionary ideas to leadership, if they would only listen.

Your employees are your front line, and if the front line falls, the rest of the company may soon follow. Take into account the viewpoints and feedback of employees as new to a position as two weeks and as old as 20 years. For example, Google’s 20 percent time plan enables employees to spend 20 percent of their day developing ideas, which gave the public AdSense and Gmail. Use creative human capital to capitalize on your company’s innovative potential.

Where is the bulk of your red tape, and how does it hold employees back? Can paperwork go digital, and can there be less of it? Do employees need more time during the day to attend to the fine details? Do they want opportunities for learning on the job? Get their input and reduce the red tape to maximize the potential for continuous improvement.

  1. Curate Mentoring Opportunities

You don’t have to hire a coach or consultant to come in and motivate your staff. Opportunities for continuous learning and improvement are present in the office right now. Open up the interconnectivity of departments and curate special mentoring opportunities. Allow senior employees to give back to new employees and help them develop new skills to grow within the company.

Giving back and sharing wisdom gained over the years makes employees feel good. The flow of positivity will spread and inspire a continuous learning environment, while developing a strong and productive work culture. Among Fortune 500 businesses, 71 percent of companies provide mentoring opportunities to their employees because they know they will see results.

  1. Conduct Regular Reviews

Annual reviews are a tradition upheld as a corporate standard of personnel measurement, but the approach is outdated. Employees desire positive reinforcement and constructive thoughts on improvement now. About 60 percent of personnel desire frequent feedback, on a monthly, weekly and daily basis, and for staff under 30, that number rises to 72 percent. More than 75 percent of employees consider feedback intrinsic to success, and 45 percent want to hear feedback from their clients and peers. Unfortunately, only 30 percent receive this type of feedback.

That includes negative feedback. When feedback is delivered appropriately and constructively, 92 percent of employees agree that this open level of communication from leaders to staff improves performance and ensures success. Employees want to know where they stand with intermediate, considerate and direct interaction. Those performance reviews you dread every year don’t have to happen. Create a positive and continuous improvement work culture by conducting regular reviews.

  1. Stress Incremental Improvement Value

Businesses and employees thrive when they’re not stressed out about meeting unrealistic deadlines and rushing to complete quotas. Stress the value of incremental improvement among your staff members. Set an achievable number, such as a 5 to 10 percent increase in sales or customer satisfaction for employees to achieve. Even if an employee reaches a 2 percent improvement, that’s something to celebrate.

Goals are meant to evolve and are professional signposts guiding staff to success. Each small improvement adds value, especially when setting SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive. Make sure goals are detailed with all ins and outs considered. Can the goal be tracked, and why does it matter? Is it the right time? When you set SMART goals, all signposts are clear and actionable.

  1. Get Updated on ISO

New requirements for ISO 9001:2015 now include a systematic human resources approach with principles weighed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as intrinsic to successful quality management.

This provides an opportunity for companies to add value to their work culture through the new requirements, which include 20,000 new standards increased to 20 pages from 14 in the previous compliance content. Certification assists companies with increased customer satisfaction levels, boosted business efficiency, better quality products and processes, and lowered unnecessary costs. Companies have until September 2018 to achieve certification.

The specifics of the guidelines encourage leadership to take active involvement in creating quality products and developing strong relationship management skills. One of the principles includes building continuous improvement into a company’s organizational ecosystem and culture. How does your company’s environment promote this principle? The standards point to one-on-one relationships with customers as a key to increased quality improvement and business success.

Companies today face shifting technological growth and information flow as competition only grows in the global marketplace. Productivity is stressed, but at what cost? Don’t let employees burn out.

Instead, create a culture of continuous improvement to stay ahead of the game and keep growing. Don’t rest on your laurels — rise above them. Even the smallest of improvements can provide doors to major evolution and future success.