By Ivan Seselj, CEO, Promapp
Is your business struggling to get staff involved in process improvement initiatives? If so, you can take solace in knowing you’re not alone. Businesses in virtually every industry wrestle with how to engage teams in efforts to improve business processes and then, if they do get them involved, how to keep them involved.
The good news is driving engagement with process improvement is not impossible. In fact, a survey of more than 300 process improvement professionals revealed 10 ideas — from simple communication to system integration — that have proven it is possible for teams to not only to be engaged, but excited about process improvement.
Idea #1: Communication. Establishing a plan for communicating your process improvement initiatives is essential for keeping them top-of-mind with staff. Using a variety of vehicles, from emails to newsletter articles to lunchroom posters, will help in maintaining consistent communications. Some companies have even created role plays (or gone so far as to make a video/animation) to demonstrate the benefits of easy-to-follow processes for both their staff and customers.
It’s also important to share the communications workload so it’s easier to manage. One way to do this is by finding process improvement champions who are willing to take turns sharing a “Tip of the Week” with users.
Idea #2: Recognition. To maintain interest among users, it’s important to give recognition where recognition is due. That can mean instituting easy-to-run recognitions like the user of the month, the most innovative improvement suggestion, or the process of the week. Some companies have set up a Heroes (top users) and Villains (infrequent users) leaderboard, while others do regular announcements of their new Certified Process Champions to the rest of the organization.
Idea #3: Employee Training. Ensuring workers have proper training, ongoing support, and the resources they need to get involved with continuous improvement initiatives is vital. Training staff as part of new hire induction helps to ensure your expectations around process management disciplines and, in turn, their expectations are clear. For ongoing support, some businesses hold drop-in sessions during which users can have their questions answered by a process champion.
Idea #4: Fun. Recognizing staff engagement in process improvement can be difficult to maintain, many companies have appealed to people’s competitive instincts by holding competitions, both within teams and across the entire organization. Some businesses have even created games — process sprints or virtual scavenger hunts with clues hidden within processes — to make process improvement fun.
Idea #5: Leadership. There is a lot to be said for senior management buy-in, but you also need bulldogs on the ground to lead the charge for process improvement. With that in mind, it is important not just to involve the organization’s leadership team in process improvement communications, but to make sure their support is visible to the entire operation. It also helps to build up a strong champion or super-user network so momentum can be maintained in all areas of the business.
Idea #6: Collaboration. Process improvement is a team effort so it is essential to let everyone know “we’re in this together.” With that in mind, businesses might consider holding one or more process improvement brainstorming sessions to get teams thinking outside the box about process improvement. These sessions can also serve as an opportunity to work through process pain points together in order to jointly come up with the best improvement ideas.
Idea #7: Daily Integration. Embedding process information into daily activities and other business systems (i.e. the company intranet) will drive employee engagement. To that end, some businesses are hosting essential documents everyone needs to access only in their business process management tool to drive usage. Other organizations tie process into personal and team performance outcomes/expectations including KPIs, job descriptions, and personal development programs.
Idea #8: Accountability. Giving staff the autonomy and resources needed to map, review, and ultimately own their own processes and improvement ideas will have a major impact on process engagement. To empower staff to be accountable, many organizations have set up a dedicated time slot for completing process related tasks. Some businesses also provide guidelines for dealing with feedback/improvement suggestions including suggested response times.
Idea #9: Room for Improvement. To maintain engagement with process improvement initiatives, it is essential for organizations to recognize the work will never be done. They must always be open to listening to users’ suggestions and concerns. And if no one is talking about process improvement, ask. Businesses should consider conducting their own engagement survey, with action plans driven by the results.
Idea #10: Bribery. Let’s face it — everyone is susceptible to a little bribery. If all else fails, a small incentive may be all it takes to drive motivation and participation. To encourage staff, some businesses have instituted process improvement incentives, such as pizza or ice cream parties, movie ticket giveaways or, in some cases, cash bonuses.
Ivan Seselj is CEO of Promapp Solutions, an industry leading provider of cloud-based process management (BPM) software for creating and managing business processes online. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @Ivanseselj. You can visit Promapp at www.promapp.com.