Two Routes to Performance Improvement

Does it seem like you’re stuck in an endless cycle of mediocrity?  Break the cycle and apply the principles of process improvement to effect change within your company.

One of the basic and most successful performance improvement models is the Deming Cycle – Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA).

Plan:  Look for a better path and establish a plan for change

Do:  Put a small-scale plan for change into action

Check:  Check plan results by analyzing meaningful data

Act:  If change was successful, expand it.  If it was not successful, begin again.

There’s a reason this is called the Deming Cycle – it’s a process you repeat at every stage to continue improvement within your company.  The Deming Cycle is applied to all kinds of processes. It’s very versatile in its simplicity, but carrying it out might not be so simple!

Lately, the Six Sigma performance enhancement model directing improvement teams has jumped in popularity.  The improvement teams are chosen from staff in various areas of the company who work to enhance performance.  Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) is the basis of this project management tool.

Define:  An improvement possibility and/or problem

Measure:  Process performance

Analyze:  The process data to delineate basis of problem performance; decide to                  improve or totally redesign process

Improve:  The process by taking action to correct basis of problem performance

Control:  The improved process to retain improvement gains

These are formulas, meant to clarify a more effective path through the accumulated inefficiencies, bad habits, and unprofitable clutter blocking high employee achievement.  The success of any attempt to improve employee performance or process is the buy-in from the people involved.

Performance improvement models only have limited impact unless your employees are motivated to follow them.  You want your company to reach and sustain a goal of high achievement.  Numerous studies show that a positive organizational culture is a major contributor to reaching that goal.  A positive culture is one that acknowledges the value of employees and their contributions to the business, one that communicates with and listens to them.  Satisfied employees are more productive, creative, and willing to do more in their jobs.  An atmosphere where people feel they are widgets in an assembly line – indistinguishable, disposable – contributes greatly to uninspired work resistant to any  improvement change.

I think the formulas are the easy part – so clean, so simple, messy problems corralled by a logical system.  If only implementing change was as simple and logical!  I believe you can’t really work on improving your business without considering it as a whole, which means considering the people who carry out the improvements.  The Deming Cycle and Six Sigma are handy tools available to help you and your staff chart a path for performance improvement.   The potential for great achievement lies in inspiring your employees to embrace that plan with the change it entails.

When you feel like Atlas carrying the world on your shoulders, we’ll carry some weight with you.  Want to discuss, moan or query regarding personnel issues? Participate in this blog, ‘cuz I’d love to hear from you.

Cally Graves is an Sr. Industry Liaison between business, workforce, and education working with Workforce Solutions. She has 38 years of experience in workforce development, primarily working with employers in Houston, Texas and the Gulf Coast region.



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