Sunday, February 3, 2013

Process Improvement: It's not always about new technology

When we think about obstacles to process improvement, the first solution that comes to mind is investing in bigger and better technology. Sometimes the hurdles to efficiency are behavioral and other times it's downright stubbornness.

Observe many workplaces and you will find the wide generation gap among employees is still prevalent. You have the set-in-their-ways old timers and then you have the new hopeful generation trained to think change, considerable change.

The age gap is not necessarily bad, because it gives companies that diverse thinking necessary to enable progress. What is transition without input of different views and experiences? Except when it may cost you in potential outlays of needless software and technology.

Let's face it, the various generations have their distinct ways of getting things done, and that may be where the inefficiency lays.

Before making any large investments, consider these challenges:

  • It's my way or the highway. As mentioned before, previous generations have been in the workforce longer and have adopted several old habits. A new program, or the potential to try existing ones in newer ways may not be a first priority. And so they are wasting time and energy completing work that could be accomplished in half the time. Team them up with coworkers who are sophisticated with existing databases or help them build templates to make their tasks easier.
  • Fear of trying something new. This ties back to the previous point somewhat, but it's worth noting that some members of the newer generations are threatened to try the unknown. In today's workforce, many managers expect their workers to be self-motivated enough to learn new or existing software on their own. That is not always the case. Investing in training programs or dividing projects in smaller tasks that encourage software use will build up the wary employee's confidence. With practice, she will become a pro in no time.
  • Switch tasks and accounts around. Giving employees exposure to a peer's work is a sure way to gain new perspective. Tying someone down to the same functions day after day, week after week, and month after month, builds a blind spot that deters new insight. It's difficult finding better ways to do something when you're accustomed to a routine. Switch tasks and accounts among employees and challenge them to find one way of improving that process.

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