At the beginning of a new year, we’re all feeling the urge to do things better, and make improvements. Unfortunately, the best-intended resolutions don’t always stick – in life or in business.
Employee engagement is a crucial step to an organization’s evolution.
So how can we engage employees on our improvement journey?
‘It’s about getting people on board, people that have been deeply rooted in what they do for many years. It’s about getting them to see a different way and trying to redefine the way that they see their own value proposition within the company. Because the way that the company works evolves over the years, and so do the roles, and people’s responsibilities, and it’s about bringing people along and making sure that everybody is aligned to that strategic direction.’
So why is engagement so important? ‘… research shows that 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals’, according to McKinsey&Company.
Each of the reasons for this alarmingly high statistic, involves human activity – or inactivity – of some sort: ‘lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor or non-existent cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability.’
Organizations can do a better job of getting – and keeping – the support and participation of their teams during business-critical projects. Here’s how:
1. Put people first
Take the time to inspire and engage tenacious, passionate people who will happily take the lead on your process improvement efforts. Teams are inclined to follow someone who knows what needs to be achieved, the reasons why that needs to happen, and how it can be accomplished, so choose your ambassadors carefully.
Don’t fall into the trap of leaning on the same people who are habitually approached to contribute to new initiatives. They will undoubtedly already be time-poor and juggling multiple responsibilities.
Select people who are strong influencers, natural communicators, and instinctively know how to sell the benefits of continuous improvement to others. When teams understand that there’s something in it for them, they become whole lot more interested in supporting change.
Encourage teams to approach change with a positive outlook. Rather than seeing the change as something that is being done to them, show them how it positively impacts their daily outputs, their career, their team, and the organization as a whole.
Communicate with your teams in a way they can relate to, and use media that catch their attention and draw them in.
2. Let go of the reins
Put your people in the driving seat by giving them the know-how they need to use your process management platform successfully. Once they have these skills, they will be more motivated to invest in your efforts.
Remember, not everyone operates at the same skill level, so assess how confident they are to engage with your platform and pitch your tool carefully.
Those who have had limited exposure to technology may need support in the form of upskilling as well as encouragement, and will find it helpful to have access to weekly group training sessions, training videos and one-on-one mentoring.
People who are comfortable with technology, on the other hand, will appreciate being given the space to experiment with your process management system. They could benefit from monthly refreshers and e-learning modules for self-guided study. This group may also be interested in attending certified training courses which endorse them to then share their knowledge with others.
Ask your team for feedback, so they feel included and invested in your business management platform from the outset. Involve them in defining critical outcomes and key performance indicators before you launch. A good place to start is for teams to capture key processes they frequently use, and then get feedback from their team mates. By building a sense of ownership amongst those who actually use the processes, procedures will be accurate and useful.
3. Build excitement and grow people
Excitement will build momentum for your project and increase team engagement. Rather than a dull business announcement that your organization is going live with a process improvement platform, create excitement by planning a launch that focuses on how the platform will improve everyone’s working day.
Back this up with support for your teams. Upskill those people who want to participate, but may not feel confident about their ability to contribute to your process improvements.
Make it clear that continuous process improvement is a priority for your organization by giving teams time to explore and learn about the platform. Ask those team members who are already proficient to be available, so teams can ask questions and be inspired to get involved.
Sustain enthusiasm by calling out wins and achievements, so senior execs appreciate everyone’s efforts and people can see that progress is being made.
4. Make participation easy
Eliminate excuses by solving technical issues that could hamper team involvement. People will use your process mapping technology more frequently, when it’s easy to access.
– Provide teams with devices, including those people who work remotely, so everyone has the same opportunity to interact with the platform.
– Consider using sign-on functionality or linking the portal through your intranet system, so people don’t get bogged down by login and password issues.
– Allocate time for teams to familiarize themselves with the system. They can take a look at processes they are involved in and give feedback to improve on those.
5. Make it a team sport
The most successful process improvement efforts are built on collaboration. Involve your whole organization in capturing processes, reviewing existing ones and constantly finding ways to improve the way they work.
Part of the process champion’s job is to make sure everyone feels heard.
Quickly follow up with ideas and suggestions so people know their feedback is important.
Involve people in setting targets, and constantly evaluate your progress against those. Appreciation motivates and inspires, so share the results in public forums like team meetings and company-wide intranet announcements.
Embed a culture of process improvement
Start your process improvement efforts with people being your top priority. The momentum you gain will embed a process improvement culture and position your organization to achieve your goals, whether they’re tech-related or people-centric initiatives.