The main ingredient for a successful lean implementation is creating a continuous improvement culture. Changing behaviors and beliefs is never easy. For instance, the previous culture determines how difficult it will be. The work environment is the result of the company culture and management styles. Certainly, that environment will determine how the employees react to the cultural transformation.
Job environment and engagement
According to Gallup, just 33 percent of American workers are engaged by their jobs. Also, 67 percent is either actively disengaged or “just showing up.” Engagement and productivity are affected by various factors. The way the employees feel their supervisor treats them is one. Other factors are how much they trust leadership and communication styles. Employees want to feel valued and respected. Moreover, that their ideas count, and their work is meaningful.
The objective of the culture change is to shift from traditional thinking to a lean thinking approach. To be successful, the relationship between leadership and associates will be the biggest hurdle. Leadership defines the organizational culture. For that reason, the first key element for a successful implementation is the buy-in and support from them.
Understand how the previous job environment shaped the company culture
Before you start planning the implementation, you have to understand how the previous culture shaped the work environment. The team mindset is closely related to the job environment and employee satisfaction.
Do you know how your employees feel about the company? How do they feel about their supervisors? What they think about how leaders make decisions? Do they feel that they matter? To change their mindset, you need to get honest answers to those questions. Getting the truth can be difficult and painful, but it is a necessary step to know how your employees feel and create the appropriate implementation plan.
The right environment to transform the culture to continuous improvement
Leadership needs to change their traditional business behaviors and adopt servant leadership. If they don’t, no matter what you do, the implementation will fail. Most importantly, the true mission of the transformation is to develop your people first. If you are not committed to making it happen, then do not bother trying. The worst thing is to announce changes and promise new ways and then not deliver.
If you are serious about adopting Lean thinking and use continuous improvement, find the right way to motivate your team. A good start is to have an honest and open communication of why you want to change. Have a heart to heart conversations to gather information. Identify the team interests, how they perceived their benefits and company policies, and how clear they have their responsibilities.
It takes a lot of continuous work to change the culture. After those conversations, everybody needs to turn the page. Then, start working together to create a better future and shape new mindsets.