Increasing Competitiveness with Continuous Improvement

Organisations use continuous improvement approaches to enhance their operations and plot a course towards excellence and sustainability. Central to an organisation’s ability to continuously improve is a culture which encourages innovation and action. The manager plays an important role in establishing and maintaining this culture.

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Continuous improvement criteria:

There are five essential elements to productivity and continuous improvement such as: role clarity- descriptions of what to do  correct job placement – job satisfaction fosters an attitude in workers to want to do their job well competency – people being properly trained to do their job well systems support – information systems and technology so that workers have the chance to do their jobs well Effective leadership and guidance.

Some of the key criteria that can be used to measure continuous improvement achievements within a team include: Internal communication policies, procedures and/or protocols. Documented internal communications framework.

Documented meeting schedule.
Documented terms of reference for key communication forums. Meeting agendas, minutes and action items.
Communication documents.
Staff awareness of internal communication mechanisms relevant to them. Staff confirmation that communication forums occur as scheduled.

Continuous Improvement Measurements can be used to identify defect sources, process trends, and defect prevention, and to determine process efficiency and effectiveness, as well as opportunities for improvement

Recording Team Performance:

An important aspect of recording continuous improvement outcomes is to ensure that your team’s work performance is documented clearly and accurately so you and the team can identify areas and opportunities for future improvement. Written performance results both quantitative and qualitative are a reliable method of comparing outcomes and creating an accurate historical record.

The record can then be used to identify trends and opportunities for further improvement. You will be able to pinpoint exactly where a process is breaking down. Documentation also highlights whether the process itself is at fault and needs revision, or whether adherence to the process is the problem.

Documenting the performance of staff against standards underpins the success of a quality system and forms the basis for continuous improvement activities that are central to any quality program

Documentation of work performance offers managers who are implementing a continuous improvement program many benefits. Consistent record-keeping provides managers with the means to measure performance of team members in an equitable manner.

Information is controlled, in that forms and templates provide a guide as to what information should be recorded and how it can be used in continuous improvement activities. Consistent forms or templates used to collect and document performance data can help managers organise and plan discussions and meetings.

The presence of organisation or team templates for documenting work performance can demonstrate the importance of the activity and emphasise that this process is one that is taken seriously by both managers and staff. If staff performance is below expectations or agreed standards, having documented information on this will help in identifying needs for development, training or disciplinary action.

Communication:

In order to have effective and sustained effort during continuous improvement activities, managers and team leaders need to communicate regularly with team members. Effective communication processes include performance reviews, meetings, briefing sessions, formal reports, email, intranet and newsletters.

An important aspect of recording continuous improvement outcomes is to ensure that your team’s work performance is documented clearly and
accurately so you and the team can identify areas and opportunities for future improvement.

Written records must exist for the following areas in order for you and the team to identify areas needing further improvement: performance reviews; quantitative data; recommendations for improvement; records and reports.

The plan-do-check-act cycle of continuous improvement involves the regular updating of strategic plans to accommodate any identified improved process. Once an improvement has been identified, it needs to be incorporated into appropriate planning documents such as the organisation’s business plan, the team’s strategic objectives and an individual’s work plan.

A quality workplace culture supports and promotes communication right across the organisation. Whether workers are focused on research, production, marketing or customer service, they should be working together to share ideas and reduce unnecessary errors. Successful collaboration involves establishing an environment in which it can effectively operate.

They are able to communicate a vision to employees, inspire energy in others, set challenging goal, see change as an opportunity, not a threat and think laterally.

Area for Improvement:
Within our organisation there is a definite need for role clarification and communication across the multidisciplinary team.

Managers should establish ways of clearly identifying the roles and performance goals of team members and ensuring that these are fulfilled according to expectations. This can be achieved by developing performance plans, providing training opportunities and rewarding and recognising individual and team achievements.

Managers should use a range of techniques to ensure team members are encouraged to participate in the continuous improvement process; for example, brainstorming, mind mapping, using cause and effect diagrams, gaining team consensus, stepladder problem-solving and reward and recognition programs.

In order to bring about a continuous improvement approach to business, an organisation must cultivate communication between management and staff and between the organisation and other stakeholders. Communication strategies include using meetings and forums, policies and procedures, newsletters and reports, and web-based communication tools.

Coaching can assist managers in helping team members to solve problems, make better decisions, learn new skills and adapt to changes brought about by continuous improvement processes.

Mentoring is a relationship between two people in which a more experienced person agrees to support the development of a less experienced person. It is an informal structure in which the mentor provides advice, listens to ideas, helps junior staff adjust to changes and to see possible solutions to challenges, describes strategies for solving problems and provides networking opportunities

Conclusion:

Continuous improvement has a vital role to play in our vision of the Medicare Local service in the future and in the various programmes we deliver. It is a mechanism for ensuring that the Medicare Local’s overall vision, objectives and priorities are put into effect. This is achieved by setting clear performance measures and targets at policy and departmental levels which align effort and allow us to manage progress and results.