What are the leadership barriers to doing this?
I have focused on time as a barrier during most of this input series. Since this is the last posted blog, I will focus on comfort as the biggest barrier to engaging input for continuous improvement. Most leaders like their processes to produce positive results and then for those processes to work smoothly and predictably. Unless there is an obvious need to change, or significant discomfort with a result, we like our processes to keep on trucking – because there are other fires to put out throughout our day. Right?
What is the case for doing it anyway?
Well…I’m suggesting (and coaching myself with this too) that we make a deliberate effort to continuously engage those were serve by asking them regularly if there is A Better Way to do a process. This is a leadership behavior that facilitates both meaningful process improvement AND employee engagement. What a win-win! Your workforce knows work arounds or processes that could be better. But like you, they have accepted the processes as “the way we have always done it” and also enjoy the comfort of stability. Yet, when a leader asks the question “is there a better way to do this”, it sparks the thinking process and creativity of those you serve to engage their input into the improvement process.
How can you do it?
- Ask “Is there A Better Way” every opportunity you can. Just ask the question “Is there A Better Way?” at staff meetings, in shift change huddles, while rounding, during post-issue debrief meetings…any opportunity that you are working with your team, just ask it. Listen and ask probing questions to try to fully understand the suggested “better ways” you are receiving. Encourage your team to ask it of each other when their co-workers or other departments complain about processes.
- Assign accountability for trialing the Better Ways. Not all suggested Better Ways will actually be “better”. But many you will hear have potential. Work with your team and assign accountability for groups to work on those promising Better Ways to trial them.
- Implement some Better Ways, recognize the input and repeat! For those improvements that actually prove to be “better” during the trial, implement them – even on a pilot basis. Get your team excited to see their Better Ways in action! Recognize the input of your team in always looking for Better Ways to get their work completed and to serve our patients. The goal is to amplify the value of looking for both more efficient ways of working and higher quality care for our patients…so that your workforce will integrate looking for “better ways” into their daily work.
What other suggestions do you have to integrate looking for “A Better Way” every day?
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