Employees are used to following instructions, if they have a problem, they call the boss and wait for instructions. When you start the continuous improvement journey, you will empower them to find solutions for their daily issues. The first time you tell them that they will look at you with disbelief, and the next couple of weeks, and months they will wait for your change in opinion.
Why do they react that way? First, because after years of not-thinking and waiting for others to solve some problems while they know the solutions seem unreal. The second reason is fear of what can happen to them if they messed up. But, by using PDCA and teaching them how to use it, you are going to help them to learn a standard way to solve problems. PDCA is a guide, a standard of the thinking process to solve a problem.
When you participate with the team on the problem-solving process using PDCA, they learn and start to trust this new tool. Because most of the time, the first solution is not the right one, they also learn that it is ok to make mistakes. When you react to those mistakes by reflecting on the lessons learned and adjusting the plan based on those learnings, they notice it and gain the confidence to do the same. If you consistently follow that pattern, you will be developing trust, which is critical for a continuous improvement culture.
PDCA is not only the standard to solve problems, but a way to boost their creativity by unleashing their ideas in a controlled test environment. Over time, they learn more about how to use the tool, but also about how thinking without limits, about new and creative ways to solve problems, and improve their processes. When that happens, you will be the one in disbelief, asking yourself why you did not start doing this before.