Continuous improvements

continuous improvement

Making Continuous Improvements

When I’m working with clients on developing their service culture and refining their customer experience, it’s inevitable it’s going to involve making changes.

It’s often been said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”,*

These changes usually involve changes for team members too.

Sometimes though, this presents a problem.

People generally don’t like change, particularly when they’ve been doing a job in the same way for years.

One of the objections I hear time and again is:

“But, we’ve always done it this way”

Can you imagine if Formula 1 teams took that attitude? It would mean a pit stop would still take 60 or 70 seconds instead of the 2-3 seconds it takes today!

Of course, these changes don’t happen overnight, they are incremental, but if you need to make changes you need to get buy-in.

There’s a multitude of reasons why people are reluctant to change. And it’s not an unusual response to be wary of change, even when it is about continuous improvements. Whilst some might rise to the challenge you’re just as likely to have people who’ll resist any change to their old comfortable way of doing things.

One of the first things is to explain why. Why the change. Not why it’s important from a business perspective, but focusing on the benefits from the team member’s perspective – the “WIIFM” i.e. what’s in it for me?

What they really want to know is how it will impact them.

We might believe the benefits are obvious. But they will often focus on the negatives first.

Here we go again! Something new to learn; it will mean more work; I’m too old to change; it’s too complicated; we tried it before and it didn’t work, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it;

Help your team realise what they will gain from continuous improvements. Will it make my job easier? Will it make things quicker so I finish earlier; Will it free up time to focus on other things that are important to me? Will it mean fewer complaints? Will it mean more tips? Will it make my job more enjoyable? Will it make me more confident? Will it give me more pride in the job I do?

I can’t

If, even when we’ve sold them on the idea of changing you still can’t guarantee you’ll get buy in. Look out for and listen for hesitation. If they believe they can’t do it find out why.

Take action

Next time you ask someone to change the way they do something and they turn around and say “but, we’ve always done it this way” give them a compelling enough reason to change and the support they need to do it the ‘new’ way.

Remember old habits die hard, so continue to encourage, support and guide them whilst they embed their new habits

p.s. * Whilst writing this post I was curious to find out who actually said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Was it Einstein, Mark Twain or Ben Franklin? Well, it seems there is no evidence of any of them saying it!

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