The business owner or top leader leads the change in company culture from traditional to continuous improvement. However, to achieve it, he or she needs the buy-in and support of the leadership team. That condition is one of the key elements for the continuous improvement success.
How to gain the buy-in and support
The first step in this journey is to get the support of your leadership team. Start explaining why the change is necessary. Be honest and provide data to support your intention. Also, communicate the purpose of the transformation. What do you want to achieve? Explain the process you will follow to achieve the goal.
Be clear about the expectations through the journey. Provide the team with a top-level explanation. For example, explain expected behaviors, like showing respect, learning, and teaching new skills.
These conversations are an excellent place to start modeling those behaviors. For instance, show how to do active listening and be patient. You and your team will go through the same learning experience. It is ok not knowing and be vulnerable. Your clarity and honesty regarding the reasons are a good selling point, but the best will be the fact that you will participate along with them on this journey. It is much more difficult not to try to do something when the boss is willing to try first.
What is in it for them?
Present the team the benefits of a continuous improvement culture. a couple of gains are more engaged employees and less turn-over rate. A stable and motivated workforce means more brains thinking in solutions. Therefore, leadership would have more time to engage in strategy rather than firefighting.
Another benefit is creating a learning enterprise where the entire team works together to provide better services or products. As a result, the company could grow to expand to new markets. Another possibility is to offer new products or services.
But also talk about the challenges ahead. Prepare the group to have setbacks and frustrations. The continuous improvement journey is about changing behaviors and attitudes engrained in the company’s soul. That task is not easy. Neither is to learn and teach at the same time. By doing this, leaders will feel vulnerable, and that is again everything they know. But, if you are willing to do it, they should be as well.
Buy-in and support leads to collaboration
The journey to transformation starts with explaining the need to change. As the top leader, you are responsible for aligning purpose, process, and people. Your job is to provide clear information and answer questions. Also, to listen, provide direction, teach, coach, and remove barriers.
Remove barriers means provide resources and make high-level decisions. Unfortunately, it also means letting go of those leaders who are not willing to change their behavior. Of course, that would be the last alternative after trying to change their minds.
With a clarity of purpose, process, and intentions, the team should be ready to start working together in this adventure. Share with them the key elements for a successful continuous improvement or lean implementation. Those elements are building blocks for the new work environment. For instance, knowing them from the beginning could help to understand the journey ahead.