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Continuing to Improve, Day After Day

So each week this month, I’ve been sharing with you one component of the overall process you can easily use to not only offload work from you personally, but, more importantly, how you can use the systems you’re creating to foster improvements within your business from “average” people. 

Now, first things first – there is nothing wrong with “above average people.”

Many of us like to think we are one, and many of our people are highly skilled. 

On the other hand, the “better” someone is, the more likely the odds are you’ll have to pay them more, and, statistically, the fewer people there are in that given population. 

There simply aren’t that many people who can run a multinational corporation effectively, but there are a LOT of folks who can do the daily work required of a multinational corporation. 

Who’s more important?  That’s a tough call. 

Who’s paid more?  That one’s easy. 

So this month, as we’ve talked about how you can systemize improvements in your company, the last piece is the “easy” one. 

When you create a system, you need a way to improve it!

What I mean is this:  now that you have the components in place, the last step is to make sure those pieces are being used to continue to push the envelope.  Not just by you, either. 

Your managers, your team, everyone in the organization needs to feel that, if they have a better way to do a job, or a task, no matter how menial, they can bring that idea up and the proper leaders can adopt a strategy (like the one you’ve been working on all month!) to improve the process. 

I touched on this a little last week – by creating an atmosphere where your team members expect change and are ready for it, “change” is no longer a “bad” word.  It’s a part of the culture.  It’s also something they feel they are expected to look for and even find. 

Do you think you know the fastest way to do everything in your company?  In all likelihood, you don’t.  But the man or woman who does that work every day for you? 

They know.  Now, you only have to encourage them to look for it.  Let “continuous improvement” become an idea in your business and the results will be surprising.   The people who do the real work in your business will learn to respond with their insight, and while you might not want to adopt every single suggestion, there’s nothing wrong with having new ideas generated from those who do the tactical work in your company. 

Let me give you an example…

One of my clients years ago have a small fleet of delivery vans.  Things ran well, but as they expanded, mistakes began to be made – vans not being properly cleaned, fuel and oil levels not maintained, and in general, repairs and maintenance were done on an ad hoc basis. 

It began to cost the company money, in missed deliveries, repair costs, and wasted payroll, and the founder decided what was needed was a Draconian series of – you guessed it – checklists.

Things got better, but when he actually talked to the drivers, they explained the “morning checklist” was too long – if the van had been stowed properly, there was no need for some of the items to be done, and they spent an extra fifteen minutes each morning in the garage, not on the road. 

Following the ideas of quantifying the performance 9 like I’ve mentioned already – he assigned the fleet manager the job of improving the checklists. 

The result?  Two checklists with a much shorter time to be completed, and no appreciable change in the metrics they had defined as critical.  In the end, they saved nearly a dozen hours each week and were able to spend more time doing the actual work than filling out checklists no one was ever going to look at. 

So, as you look to improve your company, ask the people who do the work to help contribute to the continuous improvement in the systems and processes of your business. 

You’ll get a lot of traction and create faster ways to grow.