Inspiring teams is a management skill that can be difficult to master, especially when you’re working with a diverse group of skill sets both in the field and off-site. A machine cannot run with just pistons, belts, or gears alone. For maximum effectiveness, an array of calibrated parts is needed.
Continuous improvement goes beyond simply implementing Lean tools such as vPlanner, A3’s, or Pull Planning. There must also be a culture shift from “the way we have always done things” to collective collaboration and dedication to innovation. Read on to learn five ways you can INSPIRE your teams to lead innovative change and continuous improvement.
A Guide to Culture Transformation
1. Be mindful of your vocabulary
Positive vocabulary can be the difference between positive change and resistance. This sounds simple enough, but using optimistic language can help to encourage conversations around improvement rather than instilling fear that feedback will be taken as finger-pointing or lack of accountability. The difference between issues and opportunities is a prime example.
Consider the difference between Issues Log and Issues and Opportunities Log.
We found that when the word “issues” is included, individuals are MORE likely to contribute negative feedback and “finger-pointing” rather than constructive and honest contributions. By adding the word “opportunities”, we found that people are more likely to not only look at what went wrong but also what could have been better.
2. Encourage collaboration
Innovation rarely happens in a bubble. Strategies and ideas that challenge the status quo are often improved through collaboration. Encouraging collaboration by asking open-ended questions in one-on-one and team meetings can do just that. Ensuring individual team members feel heard and encouraging teamwork can help to drive both positive change and innovation.
3. Share a common goal
Conditions of satisfaction and overall project goals must be established early and as a group. Embracing a teamwork attitude and sharing a common goal will help enable teams to convert concepts into results. In addition to collaboration, the shared common goal must be both measurable and published to the entire team.
Tip: SMART goals are a great resource to ensure your goals are both measurable and trackable.
4. Celebrate wins and lessons learned
Celebrate innovation, always! This means talking about and acknowledging not just the wins but also lessons learned. As a leader driving change, it is important to understand that not all efforts will produce ideal results. Failure is inherent in innovation and learning from mistakes, persevering through adversity, and encouraging others despite negative impacts is at the core of any change movement.
5. Purpose, not just profit
Finally, celebrate a shared mission and not just profit. Not all ideas will survive, but that shouldn’t stop teammates from encouraging each other to bring new ideas to the table that might turn out to be the next big thing. Finding a better way to do things can mean taking one step back to take two steps forward.