Continuing with the theme of our previous post, while leadership, communication, and alignment are essential they are not totally sufficient.
People also need the training and skill development to follow the organization’s improvement methodology. Lack of training will prevent people from progressing very far.
But personnel policies or practices can also easily obstruct productivity improvements. Sometimes jobs are defined so narrowly that managers cannot easily move people around to take advantage of productivity improvements. When managers are rewarded financially or in organizational prestige based on the number of people who report to them rather than how efficiently and effectively they operate, managers have powerful disincentives to increase productivity and move their people to where they would add more value.
Often organizations lack an effective mechanism to match up the skills and capability that one department has in excess resources with the needs of another department with a need for resources. To move resources effectively to their point of maximum value, you must develop a system of information about the skills and capabilities of your workforce.
Who possesses what skills?
Who’s good at math? Computers? Customer service? Selling? Equipment maintenance? Attention to detail?
Knowledge of the whole person will enable an organization to move freed-up resources to where they can contribute the most value rather than laying off the excess people and snuffing out motivation for further improvements.
Hiring practices can also hamper the ability to move people from position to position as improvements are made. If narrowly-skilled people are hired, when their jobs are streamlined, it may be difficult to find another place where they can truly add value. Continuously improving organizations seek out people who have flexible skills and abilities so they can continue to add value when needs change.
One of the most challenging barriers to remove is that of an important individual in the organization who is simply not on board. The individual may feel uncomfortable or threatened by the new way of working and leading; or may simply not agree with one or more key principles of a continuously improving organization, such as the import of what the customer values, or the way to treat employees, or the imperative of constantly improving the work, or using facts and data instead of just opinion.
When someone in a position of influence is not on board, he or she creates a misalignment between what people hear and what they see. Actions speak louder than words, so if the misalignment is not corrected, the situation has the potential to bring the CI journey to a close.
No one but the leadership of the organization can remove the barriers to effective continuous improvement. Careful monitoring of progress to identify and remove barriers is essential to achieving a culture of continuous improvement.