Implementing any business improvement without staff development and training is almost asking it to fail. There can be no assumption that all staff will actually understand what is being done and why it is being done and perhaps most importantly, how they will implement the business improvement. If they understand none of these things, then it is akin to stumbling around in the dark; but staff development and training will effectively illuminate the process!
Different Perceptions of Business Improvements
There can be widely differing perceptions of business improvements. Management often see them as being relatively easy to understand, almost as if the role that any business improvement has to play is obvious.
Yet the perception of people who actually have to implement the improvement can be dramatically different. They may perceive them as something unnecessary, another new technological or software application to learn, another process to get to grips with.
If staff have been in post for some time, then this feeling can be quite strong. Staff may think that the business is not broken, so why fix it? Management on the other hand, may be aware that unless the business is dramatically improved, competitors will have the edge and there will be no business left to worry about in the next few years!
Training Is Communication
Using staff training to equip staff with the skills to put the new business process into practice, is effectively communicating what is being done, why it is being done and how they need to do it.
This means that staff will have a far greater awareness of the reasons behind the improvement and what role it has to play within the business as a whole.
For example, a new business improvement may be implemented to ensure that costs are kept low, so that the price of a product can be kept competitive and ensure that the business will retain its existing customer base. So that is why it is being done.
Telling them how the new improvement will work in practice i.e. through increasing productivity is what is being done, which will help staff to see the ‘big picture’.
Then they need to be guided through the process of how they will actually ‘do’ it, so they can know what they need to do to carry it out. This could be a new way of doing something, a new software application to be done and so on. So they fully comprehend the new improvement and will be able to execute it on the shop floor. The more staff understand something, the less fearful they are of it, so training is key.
Staff Development And Continuous Improvement
The role of staff development with regard to implementing business improvements is also important. Continuous improvement is a theme that is central to any business, but particularly one that uses the Lean management approach.
Staff development and working with staff to review how the business process worked in practice and what difference it made to production, as well as identifying any areas where the improvement has not been successful is critical to optimise efficiency.
Without continuous review there is no means of assessing the effectiveness of the improvement and so there can be no way of ascertaining whether or not it is performing well.
Listening to staff during staff development reviews can provide a real insight into the practicalities of improvements, rather than simply assessing data.
So making any business improvement without staff training and development is almost verging on irresponsible if continuous improvement is to be achieved, in fact it is vital and plays a huge role in ensuring that improvements do what they should: improve the business!