Kaizen is ‘continuous improvement’ and is a popular subject among businesses and managers. Kaizen basically means that the best way to affect big change in an organization is to encourage lots of small, incremental changes that can improve workflow, profit margins and everything else. By continually improving in small ways, you can create change throughout your whole business that will result in much more efficient and effective operations.
But kaizen works best when it is applied at the individual level. In other words, if you can help your staff to work better on their own and to improve the way they approach problems and their regular workload, then you can make your entire organization more effective. A chain is as strong as its weakest link and a business is really the sum of its employees.
If you try to come from above as management and enforce continuous improvement, then chances are that it won’t go well. Your staff might be resistant to small changes and you might be too far removed from the process to really see where the problems are occurring or where things need to be improved.
On the other hand though, if you encourage your team to improve themselves they will be far more motivated and they will be able to make changes that really have an effect on what they’re capable of and how much they’re getting done.
So how do you encourage this continuous change in your team?
The solution is actually to give your staff more space and to provide them with the environment and the tools they need to continuous improvement.
What this means first and foremost is that you should create a blame free environment. This means that your team should feel comfortable to try new methodologies and systems without thinking that you’re going to punish them if their new ways of working don’t work as well as they should have.
Giving your staff a sense of ownership over their work is also an important step that will motivate them to be better, as is making sure that you aren’t micromanaging them to the point where there is no flexibility.
Finally, get your team to monitor and report on their performance and to show you how profits are increasing or satisfaction is increasing. This shouldn’t be used to apply pressure but by monitoring metrics they will get the feedback to see what works and what doesn’t.