“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could,” said American author and motivational speaker, Zig Ziglar.
When execs inspire their teams, leading them rather than simply managing them, they help organizations transition to new ways of working – a key component to creating a successful process improvement culture.
When it comes to ongoing improvement, a leader’s sphere of influence extends beyond controlling the purse strings and deciding how much financial support will be allocated to business process management software, for instance.
Gaining the support of executives, however, remains a challenge for many organizations that want to embed a culture of ongoing process improvement in their organization.
How to get your leadership team on board with process improvement
Although every organization is different and will choose to build a process improvement culture in its own way, this four-phased approach has helped many process improvement specialists:
1. Do your homework
Outline why successful process management hinges on executive buy-in, in a well-researched business case. Reiterate the reasons why your organization embarked on a process improvement journey, and list the benefits that can be achieved if leaders commit to visibly supporting your improvement efforts.
2. Schedule a meeting
Make process improvement a priority by securing time with your exec to initiate the conversation. This small action automatically boosts the importance of the initiative and can help you to build a relationship with the relevant leader in your organization.
3. Outline the way forward
Share your plans in a clear, compelling and quantifiable way. Be transparent about what you’ll need from the leadership team, so they understand what they’re committing to and know who else will be involved.
4. Evaluate the ROI
Quantify the return on investment by using metrics that your organization has already identified as being important. You could highlight that improvements will be made possible if execs get involved, like avoiding down-time, eliminating waste, resolving customer complaints in record time, and creating an improvement culture.
Make participation easy
Execs are busy. The easier you make it for them to be part of process improvement, the more likely they are to support your ideas and get involved.
Start by demonstrating your appreciation for the time your leadership team invests. Plan thoroughly, be upfront about what you need from them, and use their time wisely by involving them in high-value activities.
These 3 tips can help to engage your leaders:
1. Put your execs in the spotlight
Get the attention of business teams by identifying activities that raise the profile of your process improvement initiatives. List practical ways your execs can visibly participate in these events.
For example, monthly team meetings that include the whole organization are a great public platform where exec sponsors can share process improvement wins, provide an overview of future plans, and personally name and thank the teams who are making a contribution to improvement culture.
2. Speak up
Establish what you hope to achieve with your process improvement and how you plan to do it. Your leadership team won’t need to know about the minutia, so be prepared to outline your high-level plans.
Then clearly articulate exactly what you need from your execs to achieve your goals. It’s easier for executives to commit their time when they know exactly what you’re asking for.
3. Be efficient
No one likes getting more bang for their buck than a busy exec does! Bear this in mind and focus on those activities that deliver maximum impact for minimum input, and that are noticeable by your business teams. By involving execs in visible activities, their support is unmistakable and your teams will more readily follow their example.
Demonstrate the value of process improvement
Meaningful process improvement is about people and knowing how to bring them on the journey with you.
Start the process improvement conversation with your leaders. Their influence cannot be overstated – as the words of Zig Ziglar affirm, your teams can go further than they thought they could, because someone else believes they can.
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