Continuous Improvement: 6 ways to motivate your team on the 'Train of Change'

train station

With 2021 a new year has started. Expectations to recover from the unprecedented and challenging year 2020 are high. A year where the new normal will reveal itself. The new normal, a lot on this topic has already been said, but a lot of uncertainties are still out there. One thing we learned, ‘COVID-19’ showed that people, companies are much more resilient as we thought, more open for change and this at aA much higher speed as we have seen in the past. 

Many companies consider 2021 as the year of resurrection. The number of “Continuous Improvement” projects is expected to boom. I’m therefore wondering … will we gain from the lessons learned or will people take up old habits again when being part of these CI projects? 

Key of Motivation 
Allow me to start with one bolt question and consider you being the project lead or a project member of one of these CI projects. The ones not ready and open for Change, Improvement, Growth… the ones with a continuous negative internal voice when talking about change, the ones being contrary…do they deserve your energy, your attention when going through such a CI project? I personally would conclude - most likely not.

However, before coming to this (for some people) hard statement, it’s first up to the project core team to seek and find the employees' acceptance and incorporation. It’s most important that you are aware that the project core team owns the ‘Key of Motivation’, the key to convince your colleagues to buy a ticket for the Train of Change.  
If the challenge exists, so must the solution! 
Extended CI projects are never easy. Most crucial, but also most difficult, is to never deviate from the game plan, driving project discipline while chasing the deliverables! No matter how big the challenges are. If the challenge exists, so must be the solution! 
A project’s success all depends on the support you get from the Team. No matter how good you are, you’ll never manage alone! Without this support, there is a realistic chance that your train reaches the end station, with only you onboard and without achieving the goals. 

To avoid this from happening, to me the following criteria are essential when doing a ‘change’ project: 

Make the team to embrace change – Explain, in the simplest of terms to the team as to ‘why’ changes are necessary. Find their interest in making this journey together. It’s a written rule that companies without a strong focus on CI and growth will be challenged. I like to compare it with a train which slowly, but surely comes to a stand. Make the team embrace change! 

Be in this together - Convince that shaping the new future only is possible when doing it as a team. An important step in this journey is that you reach all directly involved, and not only the project core team. What will a train be with only a driver and some train conductors? In short, strive for a full train, when leaving the station, as we are all in this together! 

The internal voice - Listen to the team’s questions, their concerns, discuss and work together on a solution. We all know that the voice of the customer for a company is most important, but we may not forget and ignore the internal voice. In the end both voices are highly connected. However, don’t forget, do this without deviating from the project deliverables! 

Project visibility - Keep the team in the loop, informed about the scope, the different milestones, and progress made. By showing how the project is defined, measured, analyzed, improved, and controlled you increase their interest and involvement.   

Communication is Key – This should come as no surprise. Don’t lose your team during the journey. Be aware that the slightest period of silence or unclarity could risk losing the team's attentions, which gives them the opportunity to leave your train. You can avoid this via timely, clear, and no-nonsense communication. Better to over-communicate, than leave employees with unanswered questions.

Recognition - Reward the ones who supported, who stayed on board, the ones who approached with a positive mindset, the ones who contributed to the success of your project. The ones reaching the end station deserve your recognition! Being recognized for the good work helps to prepare for when the next train comes along, to be part of a new journey to success!

“BDP- We got this!” 

If you approach this way and manage to fulfill these criteria, ask yourself again this one bolt question. Curious to see if you changed your mind? No matter if you are driving the train yourself, or if you are one of the colleagues on the train, be aware that change and continuous transformation is one of the most important drivers to provide your company with the necessary oxygen to stay competitive, to be resilient, ready for growth and all future challenges on your path.

We must be honest, 2020 showed us that you cannot be prepared enough, but with the right mindset and continuous search for improvement you can and will stay ahead of the game.  

This is one of the ways that our teams within BDP have overcome 2020, how we managed together with our esteemed customers and partners to provide the answers to this global pandemic.

In short, how ‘we got this’. Although the rough times are not yet fully behind us, be sure, BDP is already focusing and preparing for future challenges and driving as a team altogether on the next ‘train of change’!