When it comes to addressing process problems, people love spending money because it makes them feel like they are doing something valuable. Here’s a classic example:
Adding someone new to your team to solve a process problem. Getting a new staff member makes organizations feel great about themselves. If they can afford it, why not, right? It’s easy to add a body, but this solution never works. It only makes the existing problems worse.
There are always ways for companies to improve processes without spending more money. On average, the cost of hiring a new employee alone is $4,000 and 24 days, based on Glassdoor’s 2019 study. Why spend money when you can get results with a more effective solution?
Instead of adding someone new to try and solve the problems at hand, here are three core principles every leader should keep in mind when solving a process problem:
1. Solve problems at their core.
People are prone to react and rush into potential solutions, which is why fire drills in the workplace are becoming a norm. It’s a huge waste of resources, talent, energy and money.
What every company must do is spend more time upfront to understand each problem. It is only when you identify the root cause of a problem that you can find a solution that actually sticks. This saves you time and effort from doing more work on the back end.
Even if you add another person to your team, if most of your people have no clear understanding of what they are supposed to be doing or how they contribute to the team as a whole, your processes will remain inefficient and issues will remain unsolved.
With all the dealerships I’ve worked with at Toyota, the number one root cause of all process problems always comes down to the same thing: people not knowing what they’re supposed to do or how they were supposed to do it.
Before adding someone new to your team, evaluate the entire situation. The addition of a team member as a solution might only turn into another problem, creating more inefficiency down the road.
2. It’s not what you change: It’s how you change.
No matter how great a plan is, it won’t work unless you implement it the right way. An additional person, no matter how great their talent is, won’t be much help if you fail to create an environment that always delivers the right process the right way at the right time.
Before you think about implementing a new tool or adding a new person to solve a problem, think about how you can improve your current processes and think about your culture.
Why culture? Because culture guides how everyone in your company works, which ultimately affects your processes in your workplace.
Creating a process-based culture will help your people and your company tremendously. Implement process improvement as a whole. Instead of making changes disparately and disjointedly per department, change should be made as a whole throughout your entire company in order to be effective in the long run.
3. Incrementally improve over time.
Do not wait for a problem to happen to improve your processes. Instead of waiting until a problem occurs, make small changes continually to improve your processes.
Incremental change is more attainable, rewarding both short-term and long term, and it’s ultimately more successful. Focus on solving process problems on a 30-day lead time. If you try to pursue process improvement initiatives that take longer than a month, morale is lost. No one feels like they’re winning if they can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, so focusing on incremental goals will keep your team’s spirits and productivity high.
Making incremental improvements over time is what sets industry leaders—particularly Toyota—apart from the rest of the world. They set the industry standard instead of reacting to it. Toyota’s Kaizen, also known as “continuous improvement,” is all about creating small, incremental changes that will snowball into something bigger and more impactful over time.
Is it possible to problem-solve without spending all your money?
After reading this blog, I hope your answer is “yes!” When you take a step back, you realize that what’s best for your team and your company is patience. Patience to identify problems at their core and figure out how to tackle them. Patience to involve your people in process improvement. And patience to allow improvement to occur over time.
If you know me, you know I absolutely love process improvement. That’s one of my favorite parts about working with clients: seeing them take this approach of patience when tackling process improvement and seeing real-time results and morale boosts. If you want to hear more from me about my favorite process improvement strategies, shoot me a DM on LinkedIn. I’m happy to write another blog on the topic or record a podcast episode about it too.
Wishing you a happy and healthy week ahead.
In love and respect,