Based on a presentation by the staff of Danbury Hospital in Connecticut, here are 14 steps to successfully introduce a process improvement effort into your HR department:
1. Do not expect a quick fix, seek a long term picture on how to optimize your services to the organization. The continuous improvement effort is not going to happen overnight. Understand that in order to identify the best route to optimize your organization is going to take a collaborate effort through the entire organization
2. Recognize that there is always a better way. Here is a fact of life. You have found the obstacle that is slowing down your organization. That i great. But when you correct one part of the process, inevitably it opens up another problem. It is called continuous process improvement for a reason
3. Seek out transformational leaders – To be successful your organizational leaders must change their views. The question is no longer here is what we do, it is now how we help implement the strategic initiatives of the organization as a business partner.
4. Make the system mistake proof – By creating a standard of work we establish a process that dictates how we deliver the optimized services. Thee standard must show the organization how to deliver our HR services the same way each and every time we do so.
5. Educate and train the organization – the change effort happens based on knowledge. So the easiest path is to initiate a solid program to educate the organization what is in it for me and train them how to implement the new process steps.
6. Change managers into leaders – Toyota has shown us that the most successful leaders in an organization are those who guide their staff through the process. Command and control does not work
7. Drive out fear – Command and control leads to an organization who fear taking chances. Continuous Improvement is based on taking chances with new ways of doing things. Human capital assets have to understand that it is alright to try something even if ti proves to be the wrong approach.
8. Break down silos – John Dunne told us that no man is an island. The same goes for our organizations. We are not an entity of one but rather part of a total organization. We need to learn that we are part of an ongoing effort not just an HR effort.
9. Focus on the process not the people – The works in the continuous process improvement space tell us that unless the organization is about to close its doors there is no reason to lay people off to make the changes. The problem is always with the organizational processes.
10. Avoid quotas – When we require management to meet certain productivity levels, the tendency is to move away from making the process better. Forget quotas and allow the process to work as it will tend to do oriented on a total organization basis.
11. Go and see – There is a folklore image of three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil. Managers who sit in the corner office and never visit where the action is are operating like the three monkeys. The only way to effectively see where the problems are within the process is to go and see as the process is being implemented.
12. Gain Knowledge – Are you serious about this whole process improvement effort? Then you need to continually make it a requirement of your professional life to take courses, read books in the field, so that you can keep abreast of new changes in the field. If I had sought out only the required texts for the Black Belt courses my library would consist of 6 books instead of the 55 that are in my continuous process improvement library.
13. Do it Now – I totally understand that it is human nature to put off what you could do now. But to be successful in improving the organizational processes we must act in a sense of urgency. We must take the steps towards implementing the standard of work and removing the waste under a sense of urgency.
14. Coach – Just because the human capital assets have completed the prescribed training programs to earn a belt does not mean that the training ends. The manager and the organization must work with the human capital assets to constantly find ways to improve their work output. The manager needs to be there to guide them towards the most appropriate solutions, not telling them what to do but giving them guidance on what to do to gain their objectives.