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Have you got the right improvement behaviours in your business?

I have heard many business owners over the year complain that change is pitiful within their business.

Is this how you feel?

I have seen this many times before; that the wrong behaviours get reinforced within these businesses. Their culture simply isn't helping.

So, how do you change a culture like this? There are many books written on the topic of culture and changing cultures, but let me offer some of my observations.

Getting better is OK

Standing still isn't great. Reaching perfection is unlikely. Gaining confidence is great. So why not take some pressure off yourselves and realise that moving in the right direction is good enough at the start of a culture change?

Great solutions can be developed by learning

There can be so much pressure on people to come up with good improvement ideas. If they aren't used to generating them, this can be a difficult exercise and a lack of confidence doesn't help. Talking with others (especially the boss), without expectation, and gaining a better understanding of what is going on and what people want can help here. Take the pressure off, learn from each other and then come up with some ideas.

You can change your approach as you go

When you start with your improvements you will most likely learn something along the way. This is completely natural and you should expect it. It is core to the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle; you will experience things that you hadn't planned on and this can bring learning with it. Take the learning, figure out the changes required and take a flexible route on your improvement journey.

Changing the culture isn't easy. If it was easy then everyone would have done it and there wouldn't be a shed load of books written on the subject. So, again, take the pressure off yourselves.

Think about what behaviours you reinforce through your conversations and your actions. With regards to continuous improvement, reflect on the points above and see if they can help you shift some of your business' less desirable behaviours.

If you want some more ideas then check out Making It Happen, it has over 30 strategies and methods to help you improve your change skills and business performance.

Download your 'Year of Improvement' today

Good luck with reinforcing the right kinds of behaviours. If you embrace the Kaizen approach then taking small steps and building confidence with your team can make this happen.

Get better rather than focusing on perfection, learn from your experiences (and each other), and iterate your approach. You can't go far wrong!


About the author:

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and embracing Kaizen.

Giles is also the author of Effective Root Cause Analysis and 'What Does Good Look Like?'.

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