How Do Leaders Create Continuous Improvement?

by Jennifer Miller on December 10, 2013

in Business Management, Leadership, Personal Effectiveness

improvement_line drawing on chalkboard

I’m writing an article for my HR Answers expert page on the ways that leaders can foster “continuous improvement” for themselves and for their teams. I’m looking for specific examples and am keeping the definition fairly broad: whatever you think “continuous improvement” means, I’d love to hear your idea.

What are ways you personally strive to improve your leadership? Or, what have you seen other leaders do that is effective to help foster a culture of continuous improvement? Please jot an idea in the comments section. If I choose your idea, I may want to check in with you via email to get more information so I can accurately quote you. Looking forward to your input!   Thanks, Jennifer_signature     photo credit: 123rf.com

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Miller December 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Yes, Wendy – this is very helpful! Thanks for your specific examples.

Ken Trupke December 11, 2013 at 7:52 am

Hi Dude!

Briefly, here are two concepts have been key for me:
1) None of us are as smart as all of us.
2) What, not how.

1) Remind the team that the leader’s job is NOT to come up with all the ideas, but to help clear a path to implementing the ideas of others. Each person knows the ins and outs of his job and where the opportunities are. The leaders needs to create the environment where people are comfortable bringing those ideas forward. (Note to leaders: ELIMINATE FEAR.)

2) Nothing demotivates faster than a leader laying out an objective, then prescribing (demanding?) the EXACT METHOD AND STEPS she expects you to follow to achieve it. Figuring out the “how” is what makes work enjoyable. C’mon coach, show your team the sidelines, but also show them the goal line and then STAY OFF THE FIELD and let them play!

Good luck with your piece and let me know if you need more!

Jennifer Miller December 11, 2013 at 8:11 am

Ken, this is excellent advice and spoken like a man who has “been there, done that” a few times (which I know you have.)

Rich Teed January 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Continuous improvement is essential for me and the company. This can be accomplished via various channels – reading books, articles and blogs, subscribing to podcasts, attending conferences, listening to people. The key word is “listening”. Listening to employees, customers, mentors, industry experts…. How to make sure the organization is continuously innovating: Pick the right employees, coach them, empower them, reward them, and make sure they stay on the right track. A good leader does not take credit for successes but instead gives the credit to employee(s). A successful company not only adapts to change it embraces it and takes the lead in change. So, you need to create an environment that encourages innovation. Encourage employees to try new tools, processes, come up with new ideas… You need to guide and teach them but do not smother or micro-manage – it is very easy to squelch people’s ideas, it is much harder to encourage ideas. Our founder (my mentor) gave me a poster a long time ago and still hangs in our offices http://media.luerzersarchive.net/media/print/corporate_identity/4.8506c_l.jpeg – “An idea is a fragile thing. Turning it off is much easier than keeping it lit.”

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