This week I was facilitating a workshop for a group of team leaders and supervisors. The subject was managing and sustaining 5S. I asked what their biggest concern is to implement and sustain 5S. Close to 70% of them answer that selling the need for it. How do you sell the need for continuous improvement? How do you get your team to buy in to lean?
Using benefits to sell the need for continuous improvement
The answer of the workshop participants did not surprise me. My experience tells me that they were right on the money. For a long time, I struggle to get the buy-in of the team. It took me years before I realize what I was doing wrong.
During the launching phase, I talked about the benefits of continuous improvement. For example, for a 5S implementation, I mentioned things like better organization, increased productivity, cleaner machines, and no search for tools. But I failed to tell people what was vital for them.
People respond to what matters to them
Unfortunately, sometimes we forget that who we are is an inherent part of everything we do. Our beliefs, values, and life purpose are at the front and center of all our decisions. Even when we don’t realize that we are doing it, those things guide ours thought process.
Talking about how continuous improvement or 5S will benefit the company will not gain their buy-in. Your team needs to know what is in there for them. We would gain their support when they see how this new initiative connects with their needs and who they are. It is our job to find that connection and communicate it to them. To know that, we have to answer a few questions.
- What are the most important things for them? – family, community, personal values
- What higher purpose they pursue? – fighting climate change, curing cancer
- Their personal goals – professional and personal
- How do the team feel about their work? – content, frustrated
Answer their questions and concerns to sell the need for CI
Every proposed change will encounter resistance or hesitancy. None of those changes will be sustainable unless the team understands and support them. This statement is true for continuous improvement, 5S, or anything else. Job security gained through increased profits or better customer service is a great selling point. However, maybe it is not connected to their values or emotional needs.
To sell the need to change, you need to understand their goals and what they value. When the team sees the relationship between what matters to them and your proposal, buy-in and sustainability have better chances. Ensure that your communication plan highlights that relationship. Also, answer any other questions and concerns they may have before they voice them.