When leadership move away from command and control and empower their team, amazing things happen. Once the team feels trusted and supported, they gain more knowledge about their capabilities. This condition is critical to have them creating improvements in their areas. However, it is not enough to ensure sustainability. Leadership still must do more to help employees to improve their workplace.
Create a safe space for learning
A continuous improvement culture is about learning, experimenting, and reflection on the results to keep learning and improving. In other words, continuous improvement promotes creating a learning enterprise. To learn, the team needs to feel safe.
People will share their ideas and expose themself to failure only when they know that there will be no retaliation. Therefore, you must show with actions that testing new ideas and learning from failure is ok. Better yet, that it is not only ok but encouraged.
When things don’t go as planned, help the team to understand what happened. Make them feel safe by focusing on the process, never on the people. Do not talk about how the company metrics suffer, but how much knowledge you gain.
Help your employees to improve their workplace by listening to them
As a leader, one of your responsibilities is to go to gemba every day, see for yourself and ask questions. When you do, actively listen to your employees. Listen to their concerns as well as their ideas.
They are the best source for ideas on how to improve their work area or processes. Your job is to guide them by respectfully ask questions. Ask them what help they need from you to succeed? This help can be resources or training.
Help your employees to improve their workplace, learn what others are doing and share it with them.
Although there is no better way to learn than doing, learning from others is good too! Being a member of a professional association has several advantages. One of them is that you can get information about best practices in your industry. Also, if your business has more than one location, create a structure to facilitate ideas sharing. Although not always what others are doing is 100% transferable, you always learn something.
Create a safe environment where the team is not afraid of sharing their ideas. Listen to what they have to say and do what you can to help. By testing new ways to do things, you win, or you learn.