Many organizational leaders make significant changes, smile at their work and walk away from the effort, naively assuming that the improvements will last forever. But over time, people sometimes revert to the old ways of the past because they’re more familiar with them, or they’re easier to implement.
To make change stick, we need to manage organizational systems and processes in a way that locks in the changes. This is where organizational systems come into play. Systems speak. They need to be managed in a way that communicates what’s important and what’s not.
When we measure, reward and recognize quality, we’re communicating the importance of quality to our employees, who in turn deliver quality because it is top of mind. When leaders spend a lot of time removing barriers to customer service, employees are more apt to focus on improving customer service.
Creating sustainable results has been core to our work in multiple industries and companies such as Owens Corning, FedEx, ConAgra Foods, Honeywell, Ryder, ITT, and Abbott Laboratories, among others.
We’ve measurably improved quality, service, sales, productivity, on-time delivery and ROI. We’ve reduced costs, OSHA recordables, truck accidents, process deviation, absenteeism, turnover and more. We didn’t just improve results. We made them stick. That’s why we institutionalize the processes so the results last. They stick because we lock in the improvements by aligning the critical systems and processes.
These systems speak volumes.
Leaders need to clearly communicate their priorities and expectations. According to employees, leaders communicate their priorities by how they use their rime, what they take the lead on, who and what the recognize and by the questions they ask. If they perform these roles well, results are apt to stick.
Measurement and Rewards
What counts is what you count. What gets rewarded gets done. It’s critical that measurement and reward systems are in alignment with the organization’s goals. If they aren’t aligned with what’s needed to win, they communicate the wrong messages – messages that are inconsistent with driving people and what they do in the right direction.
A strategic story includes five information categories that lead to high performance. The story then needs to be embedded into the operations so everyone in the organization understands how the “say communication” translates to what’s actually done. Scoreboards and regular huddling processes help to rigorously and continuously improve performance.
Well organized, efficient and waste-free work processes communicate that an organization is serious about high performance. Blend core work processes with tailored ones that surgically attack specific areas with opportunities for improving results. One of our clients cut warehouse damage by 65 percent and improved productivity by 16 percent by modifying work processes and its incentive plan together.
Learning and Development
A high priority needs to be placed on continuous learning. People in the organization need the right skills and knowledge to perform at their peak. In many organizations, this manifests as making sure first line leaders have the skills, knowledge and time they need to do lead.
KEY TAKEAWAY: When the systems are properly aligned, the performance improvement effort is more likely to stick than if it’s not reinforced.