How To Write a Workplace Continuous Improvement Plan in 5 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 26, 2022 | Published October 7, 2019

Updated May 26, 2022

Published October 7, 2019

Leaders are often looking for ways to build on company growth, and are tasked with ensuring progress toward new and existing goals. This type of thinking can be structured with a “workplace continuous improvement plan,” which constantly challenges the business to meet new goals. 

In this article, we will define continuous improvement with techniques on how to use it in the workplace. We’ll also look at examples of good workplace continuous improvement plans.

What is continuous improvement?

Continuous improvement is a strategy that keeps a company’s focus on improving the way they manage business functions. Leaders may set small goals to achieve each month, in addition to quarterly and annual goals. It keeps the company moving forward and building momentum. There are several different techniques you can use to develop continuous improvement plans. 

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

How to create a continuous improvement culture in the workplace

You can follow these five steps to create a successful continuous improvement culture in your workplace: 

1. Choose the appropriate method

There are many continuous improvement methods you can choose to fit your workplace needs.

Some specific improvement techniques include: 

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA)

The first stage in the process is gathering data and information, the “plan” stage. During the “do” stage, you will implement your plan on a small scale. After a designated period of time, you’ll “check” the results of your method on the small scale and make any needed adjustments. To “act,” you will apply your solution or method full scale. You can repeat this process as often as necessary. 

Value stream mapping

This method allows teams to create a visual of the process or method. They will gather information about the current state of their project or process, then map the steps they need to take to reach a proposed goal. Value stream mapping is a lean method, meaning it helps teams identify and eliminate time and resource waste to make processes faster and easier. 

5S strategy

Translated from Japanese, the 5S strategy includes ” “sort,” “set in order,” “shine,” “standardize” and “sustain.” During the “sort” stage, you will identify and remove any unneeded resources from the process. After gathering the necessary resources, you’ll organize them so that they’re in the right places. “Shine” involves regularly cleaning and organizing your workspace to keep a smooth workflow. When you “standardize,” you’ll develop specific processes for keeping your workspace organized. The final step, “sustain,” means you allow employees to self-manage their own methods. 

2. Monitor growth

You should monitor growth regularly to confirm that teams meet performance goals. Hold regular meetings to ensure everyone feels comfortable with the goals and has the resources they need. Ensure you have specific deadlines for each performance goal so team members can have timelines. 

3. Set manageable goals

Setting small, realistic goals is essential to a team’s success. Making goals manageable encourages and motivates employees to achieve them. For example, a realistic goal for a customer service team would be to increase customer satisfaction by 5% by the end of the quarter. In response, they could improve customer communication and request that they provide feedback after every interaction.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

4. Ask for employee feedback

Having a committed team is crucial and all team members should play an active role. Regularly asking team members to share their progress and setbacks can help you make adjustments and offer guidance when necessary. Employees may also have new ideas for reaching goals that weren’t apparent to you. 

5. Update the team regularly

Encourage your team by giving them timely updates on projects and goals. Consider updating the team on progress each week so they can see how their work is affecting the goals. This can motivate them to remain focused on their tasks and quickly address any issues that they need to address. 

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

Continuous improvement examples

Here are two examples of continuous improvement methods: 

1. Increase sales

A company sets a goal to increase sales, so the sales department manager meets with their team to discuss a timeline and how they will meet the goal. When the manager holds another meeting one month later, they find that they have half the sales they hoped to have. The manager asks for feedback on the process to see if they can improve it. 

Several employees mention they do not think the current sales techniques are useful, so the team works together to develop a new method to try. The manager plans to meet with the team again in two months. After just one month, the manager finds the team has sold 50% more than what was predicted. 

2. Improve products

A software company has a new product coming out, and the quality assurance team needs to confirm it works well before releasing it to the public. The team uses various approaches to test its functions continuously. When they encounter an error, the team meets to discuss what could be causing it and develop new testing methods. They repeat this process of testing the program and trying new ideas until the program is free of errors.

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