Skip to main content

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.

Available from Amazon and iTunes
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.

Subscribe to my email updates and receive my on time delivery and productivity improvement guide:



Popular posts from this blog

Where there is a (performance) gap there is a concern

I had a really good day yesterday working with a client's team.

The team has issues. Plenty of issues. Some are managerial issues, some are people issues and some are production issues.

When I first met the team they didn't know what to do with their issues, so I started by helping them to see more issues.

Issues everywhere, they didn't seem very impressed.

And then we captured the issues as 'concerns' into the tried and tested 'concern cause countermeasure' format and followed the process:

Concerns probed for root causes and root causes converted into countermeasures.
Soon they realised that some of their root causes dealt with numerous concerns and they gained momentum.

Yesterday we pulled another one of their processes apart and identified all of the gaps. The gaps became concerns and we fed them back into the process. Now they have a practical action plan (of countermeasures) to upgrade the process in question.

What do you do with your performance gaps? …

Continuous Improvement and the Five Legged Race

Many improvement projects need the buy in of several people before they can progress. Amongst these people there will be some that have a firm view of what needs to happen and are keen to make progress. Some of the people won't be sure and they will need more time. Other people might not be that interested and have other priorities they want to focus on.

None of this is wrong.

It is an observation of mine and one that I see repeat on a regular basis with the businesses that I come into contact with.

But, if we take the principle from the observation we have an interesting improvement strategy (one that I personally use when I get stuck with my client's improvement projects).

You might have worked out the approach from the title of this blog post, but it is analogous to a three-legged race (or four, five, nine...). If someone in the group moves in the wrong direction and / or at the wrong speed then the whole group falls over.


In the example I gave at the start it is no differe…

Do you have time to prepare (in order to become super productive)?

I had a funny conversation a few weeks ago with a team that was complaining about one of their colleagues spending 'ages' preparing their workstation within their factory. I meet a lot of people that spend too long preparing (and effectively procrastinating) so I was intrigued by their comment. It turns out that this individual didn't spend too long but rather his colleagues dived into their work without thinking through what the best way to work was...

The slower to start gentleman did in fact prepare his work area. He was also able to produce a far greater amount of work in the same time period because he had invested in a smarter way of working than his counterparts. The time spent preparing his working area was valuable and not overdone.

This example reminds us of the importance of the second S in 5S (set in order) and how workstation design is critical if we want to maximise the productivity of our teams. Whether this is a physical work area in a factory, the filing s…