Among the highest achieving organizations are those that have successfully planned and developed high performance cultures of continuous improvement.
Management promotes this culture by truly valuing the workforce, fostering open communication, and both educating and empowering people to think outside of the box, with amnesty, as they seek innovative ways to study and improve the work and work processes.
These organizations also tend to have a highly-engaged workforce in which most people have an emotional attachment to their work. These engaged employees are willing to go “the extra mile” because they feel that they are part of something bigger, working on behalf of the organization and its goals.
But Continuous Improvement and Engagement are top-down-driven strategies. Without the support and commitment of senior management, neither concept can become the cultural way.
“A culture of continuous improvement begins with leadership,” said John Knotts, a business professional leader and consultant in Austin, Texas. “If it is not understood, influenced, and supported by leaders, it is doomed to struggle and fail. Thus, it takes significant leadership engagement to create a culture where all employees are continuously improving what they do every day.”
The same is true about engagement, as summarized by Doug Brown, President of Engaged2Perform, a consulting company in Waterloo, Canada, who said, “If senior leadership doesn’t buy in or doesn’t understand engagement, the company isn’t likely to have engagement polices… even top corporate executives who are aware of engagement practices aren’t always aware of the financial return they can deliver.”
Finally, possibly Costco’s Jim Sinegal summed it up best when he said, “Culture is not the most important thing, it’s the only thing”