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How to sustain the momentum of continuous improvement

Organisations will often introduce initiatives in order to motivate employees. As they strive to do better, companies will set targets for their teams and offer rewards when goals are met. It’s nothing new; businesses have been incentivising good performance for decades.

However, many organisations find that motivation amongst employees dwindles after a period of time, and not even the lure of reward is enough. As a result, leaders find themselves back at the drawing board, cooking up the next initiative to motivate their staff in a bid for continuous improvement. But could there be a better way to motivate employees? And how can you sustain the momentum of continuous improvement? Read on to find out.

What you want vs. what your employees want

Continuous improvement in business terms is about constantly shooting to do business better. This may not necessarily mean doing more, earning more, or making more sales. It could be as simple as refining a method, speeding up a process, or acting more sustainably. Whatever it is you want to achieve, your targets must be definable and measurable. Put your desired outcomes in writing and set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for them.

Once you’ve established what it is you want, you must communicate it to your employees. At ILX we talk a lot about crafting an open culture and the importance of a leadership style which involves employees in business decisions. Making staff aware of any challenges you face as a company offers them the opportunity to become a part of the solution. The open culture approach makes your team feel valued, respected, and appreciated, and onboarding your team is vital for achieving your targets – win-win!

Personal development equals business development

Continuous improvement is driven by people. To reach their potential, those people need to be motivated, and that boils down to feeling valued and fulfilled. We’ve established that adopting an open culture can go a long way to individuals feeling valued as it creates a sense of inclusion and a trusting working relationship, but how about fulfilment?

Delivering personal development programmes for your staff is a crucial step in attaining fulfilment. More than just one-off training, a personal development programme entails working with each individual to nurture their talent and offering ongoing professional development training to support their growth. The impact of this is vast. For one, it demonstrates that you are invested in your employees and their careers - and this can have a direct effect on improving retention rates and job satisfaction. But also, it ensures your team has the proper training to contribute to your continuous improvement initiatives. Personal development equals business development!

Long-term motivation approaches

Sustaining the momentum of continuous improvement is all about smart, long-term approaches. Whilst quick-fix rewards such as office lunches, extra holiday days, or vouchers can boost motivation and participation, these are exactly that, quick-fix, short-term tactics. A much more successful approach is to reward in a long-term, sustainable way, and a great way to do this is to figure out what it is that your staff actually want. Discover what is really important to them rather than second guessing.

For some, this will be as elemental as recognition. ‘Lack of appreciation’ has been cited as the number one reason why employees leave their job. Demonstrating that your staff are appreciated, their opinions are valued and that they are respected can go a long way to continued success. For others, a financial reward will be a big driver. Along with incremental salary rises as part of their personal development programme you could consider instating a profit share scheme or end of year bonus, whereby a lump sum is given if the business has met its goals. Not only will this drive employee’s performance, it will also bring them together to achieve the results collectively.

An all for one and one for all comradery can do wonders for sustaining the momentum of continuous improvement. Improving the culture within your organisation to one which is open, supportive, respectful, and collaborative is the best thing you can do in order to achieve ongoing improvement and growth. And empowering staff with training, resources, prospects, and a positive attitude will see your efforts turn into tangible results now and in the future.