Continuous Improvement

Initiating Change

When communicating any organization goals or changes start with explaining the reason why it is necessary. Make changes only after you fully understand the process, you can’t fix what you don’t understand, and you risk alienating staff.

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Stay Organized with Plus/Delta

The plus/delta tool is an effective way to keep feedback organized. As electronic file sharing continues to be a positive trend in organizations, consider leveraging electronic tools for feedback gathering. Teams might use a shared plus/delta document to collect feedback about wins and challenges, if a particular process is ongoing. The notes made on the plus/delta can then be examined at each team meeting.

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Recognize Silos Taking Place

Symptoms of silos include:

  • Lack of information or knowledge sharing across teams,
  • Major projects are a surprise to people outside specific divisions,
  • Infrequent communication from leadership,
  • Inconsistent communication from leaders,
  • Multiple departments are working on similar projects or research simultaneously creating a duplication of work.
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Reduce Stress by Improving Processes

As new technology becomes rapidly introduced, it’s a good idea to revisit processes you use to execute your daily work. Analyze which tasks take you the most time, or cause you the most stress, and look for ways to improve the process for greater efficiency.

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What Have You Accomplished?

Create a list of your accomplishments since you’ve begun your career. What awards or recognition have you received? What impactful results have you reached? Use numbers and analytics to show impact when applicable.

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From Results to Action Plan

After you’ve completed the results rollout process, review the additional data you collected. Then, develop an action plan:

  • List the team’s prioritized actions.
  • Determine a timeline for implementation for each action.
  • Identify the person responsible for successful implementation of each action.
  • Provide the team with the draft 90 Day Action Plan for one last review and opportunity for feedback before implementation.
  • Implement the action plan.
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Change Begins with Honesty

To affect change, we must be honest with ourselves and with others. Explain to stakeholders why their feedback is important and necessary to help the organization improve.

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Measure to Provide Unmistakable Value

To illustrate to teams the value of their service, it’s critical to measure progress, gather feedback and share that information with employees and customers. Having conversations about those numbers will enable you to identify opportunities for improvement. These conversations facilitate how to get better at providing stakeholders with unmistakable value.

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From Employee Engagement Surveys to Action

After the employee engagement survey results are calculated, gather your team and talk about the results. What ideas does the team have for improving the lowest items? What items are most important to them? After you’ve recorded their priorities, develop an action plan to present to the team. When leaders are transparent with their action plans, teams know their leader is committed to increasing their engagement levels.

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Use Data to Action Plan

Collecting data is meaningless if we aren’t analyzing the data for opportunities and improvements. After data has been collected, analyzed, and shared, develop an action plan using information from these discussions. Set a challenging but achievable goal. Resist the temptation to set too many goals and stick to 1-3 to focus on.

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Sharing Data

After we have gathered data, it’s important to close the feedback loop and share the results with our organization’s stakeholders, such as employees and the community. Conversations with stakeholders around the data provide opportunities to gain additional information and identify wins, gaps, and possible strategies for reducing gaps.

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Drowning in Data?

The quality of the data is much more important than the quantity. Are you collecting the data that is most important for the organization? Are you using the data that’s being collected? Align the data to the organization’s goals to focus on what matters most and eliminate unnecessary data collection.

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From Strategy to Action

Are the organization’s broad goals converted into measurable annual goals? What actions are necessary to accomplish those annual goals? Who owns those actions? Setting and communicating defined annual goals as an executive leader is a vital first step to achieve organization-wide alignment. Team leaders can then determine what quarterly priorities will define success and which of their team members will be responsible for taking action. Progress and results are reported back to the executive leader in relation to the annual plan.

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Develop with Specific Goals

Prepare a plan with an aspiring leader this week. It’s recommended for the professional development plan to include goals, objectives to meet those goals, criteria for completion, and a timeline. Using specific, measurable goals, rather than vague goals like “improve communication,” we can better track progress and identify areas with further development needs.

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Clarify with the Team

As we reflect on what’s working well, identify areas with opportunities for improvement, and develop the needed adjustments to actions for execution. It’s the leader’s responsibility to clarify those actions with the team. Communicate clearly about which initiatives and priorities are no longer the focus and which 1-3 areas are more important. Align the team’s actions to the desired goals, and establish the next steps and who will own those steps.

 

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Reflect on Service

Gather data from your customers and front-end employees about their service experience with your organization. Listen to the feedback and analyze it to identify themes. Then discuss this information with your teams and brainstorm ideas to improve the experience. Choose 1-3 actions for improvement and decide which team members will own them.

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Why Aren’t We Getting Results?

When individuals or teams aren’t reaching the intended results, schedule a reflection session to review the actions taken and areas that can be improved to achieve success. Then, develop a plan for the individual’s or team’s next steps.

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What’s Working Well?

Analyze what is working well on your teams and with individuals to determine what actions lead to the greatest results. Incorporate more of what’s working well into the team’s upcoming strategic actions.

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Illustrate Goals Visually

Use a scorecard, stoplight report, or another tool to visually present yearly goals. This tool can be used in meetings to show the progress toward goals and make necessary adjustments if progress isn’t being made. Achieving goals becomes more likely if we have a constant focus on the actions being taken to attain success.

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The Right Data

Collecting data has a specific purpose. The type of data collected and the tool used for collection is determined by the issue, problem, or challenge to be addressed. Start by identifying one goal that the team or organization wants to achieve. What data is needed to understand the current state, set a challenging goal, and measure the progress? Collecting the right data and using it for improvement is essential to increasing performance.

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Satisfaction Surveys

How do you know your stakeholders are satisfied? The best way is to ask. Create a stakeholder feedback survey and distribute it to customers, clients, the community, parents, etc., to gather essential data used for decision making and future success.

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Weekly Connections

Connect with your team once a week for 10-15 minutes. Each member reports: one win/progress made, what step they’re taking next, and any potential barriers to achieving their goal.

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Communicate Progress

The stoplight colors are an easy and quick way to communicate progress toward achieving a goal. The green, yellow, and red colors are used to show the status in relation to achieving the goals. There is at least one measure (data set) for each goal. If there is no progress towards the goal, red is used. If the goal has been reached, we used green. A stoplight chart is a simple way to monitor progress and is a great visual communication tool.

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From Feedback to Actions

Identify 1-2 specific, high-leverage next steps from stakeholder feedback that will make the biggest difference to those you serve and drive the results you aim to achieve.

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Discussion for Improvements

Strategy sessions provide a forum for open and honest conversation about challenges and resources. The more we involve the entire team in the discussion, the richer the options for improvement.

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Identify the Actions

Which actions will produce 80% of the quarterly goal results? Identifying which actions produces the majority of the results will align individual behavior to organizational goals.

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Use Strategy to Inspire

Celebrating success maintains the focus for improvement and provides others with stories of success. Listening to the “why” of success during a strategy meeting may provide others with strategy or process improvement ideas.

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Strategy Sessions Rely on Data

It is most effective to schedule a strategy meeting after data needed to inform the work are available. We use data that informs progress toward the goal to make a judgement about how well we are executing strategic actions to accomplish the goal.

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Analyze The Process

Today, examine one process you or your team uses most frequently to eliminate extra steps and identify ways to improve. The most effective processes are simple, rather than complex, and are revisited regularly for efficiency.

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Be Prepared

Research what’s trending in your industry and anticipate what problems you will encounter for the projects you’re currently working on and brainstorm 3 potential solutions for each scenario.

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Learn to Be Exceptional

Exceptional leaders are continuous learners. Choose a topic you’d like to learn more about and schedule time this week to do so.

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Improve Yourself First

Identify one thing you will learn this week, and set aside the time needed in your schedule. Improve yourself before you attempt to improve those you lead.

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Concentrate on Your Strengths

Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and let leaders, mentors and others help you with your weaknesses.

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Connect by Relating

Relate, don’t compare. During every meeting and interaction this week, identify how you can transfer and implement an idea or best practice to your team.

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Objective Evaluations

Adopt and commit to an objective, measurable, leader evaluation tool and hold leaders accountable for the results.

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Develop Yourself to Develop Others

Choose a skill you need to develop further as a leader and set aside 30 minutes each day to practice. We can only take someone as far as we’ve taken ourselves.

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Best Practices Out-Perform

Identify a best practice that’s currently being used by another unit or department that your team can implement to improve performance.

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Transparency Changes Results

Make your stakeholders aware of the current status and the future target of your organization. Be honest and transparent to change your results. After meeting, ask stakeholders to fill out a survey or other form of written feedback.

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What Gets Recognized Gets Repeated

Set clear expectations by immediately recognizing individuals who are doing the right things in the right way.

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Priorities Align to Values

Analyze your actions for today and determine if they are in line with the mission and values of your organization. Identify what actions will lead to the most results and spend your time accordingly.

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Observe and Learn

To improve the performance of your team, observe and review behaviors of low performing teams as well as those of high performing teams. By observing low performing teams you learn what not to do.

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Start Small

Start moving barriers today by writing down your top three obstacles. “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

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Leading Change

Do one thing today outside of your comfort zone. “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw

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