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Helping Your Teams to Spot Improvement Opportunities

I chatted with a production team the other day about ways in which we could improve their performance. They had recently overcome some major operational issues but still weren't in a place that they needed to be. We overcame the awkwardness of the conversation by talking about the overall ambitions of the business and the relevance to them and then got talking about general performance improvement.

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At first the conversation was really stilted because, for them, where do you start? This is a challenge for all management and leadership to overcome, helping your teams to see the opportunities for improvement and then helping them to help themselves get past this sticking point into action.

In this particular conversation I split up the ambitions of the business into multiple areas. Each area was small enough to have a meaningful discussion around it that naturally generated a range of improvement opportunities for the team. Breaking big picture items down into more relevant discussion points is certainly one strategy that you could use to help to get your teams on board with generating improvement ideas.

Giving the teams an areas of focus is another strategy you can use to start the process of generating relevant and practical improvement ideas. We all have different perspectives and sometimes it is our responsibility to help our teams see the world through a different lens. You probably could help change the perspective of your team by sharing your observations, this in turn could lead to a range of focused improvement opportunities.

The make do and mend mentality is often rife within businesses. You know how it goes - something doesn't quite work properly, someone complains, nothing happens, the group learn to put up with sub-par tools / systems / processes / behaviours. If this is something that could be happening in your business then you have the opportunity to take one or two of the easier issues and fix them. Demonstrate that a better way is available and this can open the conversations about all of the other things that you cannot see as improvements starting to come to the surface.

These are just three examples of how you can engage your teams to generate improvement opportunities and let's not forget that the hard work is still ahead of you to make the change a reality. Of course, if you have the team on-board (through the above types of conversation) then sharing out the work, steadily ploughing through the actions and keeping good communications open about progress and challenges will most likely get you to where you need to go.


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

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