Continuous Improvement – What’s In It For Your Employees?

March 12, 2020 in Continuous Improvement, Leadership, Workforce Excellence

A question that comes up regularly in relation to Continuous Improvement is “What’s in it for your Employees?”

Why should they care and why would they want to participate?

Recently this question was Answered by Frank Devine in our interview on his Rapid Mass Engagement Process.

Watch or listen to the full episode – The Workforce Excellence Show

Frank Devine – Creator of the Rapid Mass Engagement Process.

FRANK DEVINE

This is the key thing about the whole Rapid Mass Engagement approach.

And when I teach the master students in the Lean Masters, most of the lectures will be about the lean methodology, the lean tools, the real lean processes, etc. All of which are incredibly important – whatever you call them, Six Sigma Lean OPEX, Improvement Science, this is the same body of scientific knowledge.

What I say to them on day one is: Imagine if every employee in your organisation was a total expert on every technique and process in the whole continuous improvement world – but they didn’t have the desire to improve their job every day. Where would that get us?

…the process is based on really powerful values about integrity and humility and authenticity and respect for employees

So that in fact is the key to this approach, because that was the the frustration I had as a very early adopter of these approaches in the West, that’s where I started experimenting with this approach.

The idea is that instead of pushing continuous improvement onto employees from the top, you create a pull where employees want to improve their daily workplace. And the way you create the pull is engaging them at that deeper values level.

So, it’s about their families and communities, etc but it has to be genuine. A senior team that tries to manipulate this doesn’t understand the process because the process is based on really powerful values about integrity and humility and authenticity and respect for employees.

CHRIS/INTERVIEWER

Is that what you mean when you say Bottom-up approach?

FRANK DEVINE

Well, the bottom up approach describes how the continuous improvement culture is created.
So it’s not coming from Management, “we want to sell you an approach” and “we want you to do this as part of your job.”
It’s the employees themselves saying “these are the things that are stopping us achieving great things. These are the things that frustrate us and what kind of culture do we need to remove those immediate obstacles and create a competitive advantage in the market for our business, so that we can grow jobs so that we can out compete.”

Global corporations have moved products from much lower cost economies and brought them into expensive markets from a labor cost point of view directly against the trend of the last 30 years.

This is because the sheer quality of the workforce, the commitment of the workforce, the discretion we have for the workforce, meant that they could achieve competitive advantage, which overpowered the kind of normal cost factors that would make you manufacture in China or Vietnam, or wherever else.

So when when employees see that this is genuine that they’re not being manipulated, as they do suspect, I get accused in some of the early workshops, it is humorous in a way. They say to me “you forced us to participate in that workshop.” And I say “What do you mean?”
“Well, we we decided in the canteen when we came in, we weren’t going say anything. And you made us talk.”

But the point is they had already decided this briefly – that’s what I mean about a negative assumption. So sometimes people will come in determined not to say anything, but can’t help themselves because of the way the process works.

Watch or listen to the full version of this interview.

The Workforce Excellence Show

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