Improvement leaders should be focused on empowering frontline workers no matter their function. In this article we turn the spotlight on quality improvement and how organisations can effect impactful change.
A great continuous improvement system is one that gives people at the frontline a loud voice, particularly when it comes to quality. The people who do the work are the experts and they will take greater pride in the work they do. It is essential to give them the ability to identify and fix quality issues, own the standards, and understand how standards work for them.
This is where empowering frontline workers, and establishing a psychologically safe environment, for quality improvement becomes essential work for leaders
The role of frontline workers in quality improvement
When we empower our frontline workers for quality improvement, we want them to initiate and enact quality improvements because they know very clearly where the deviations, issues, frustrations, and problems are in the process. It is important to get them engaged from this point of view so that the quality system is working for them.
Frontline workers are the experts in their work areas and are in the best position to identify issues and suggest improvements. Take the below example from a longstanding TeamAssurance client.
Frontline staff record model processes and behaviours in-situ. The video is then uploaded and available instantly to all teams and placed into the agenda for tiered meetings:
By empowering frontline workers to identify and address quality issues, the overall quality of the product or service is improved.
When frontline workers take ownership of quality, they become more invested in the process and are more likely to suggest improvements that positively impact the customer experience.
Empowering frontline workers for quality improvement
To empower frontline workers for quality improvement, it is important to provide them with the tools and resources they need to identify and address quality issues. One of the ways to achieve this is through the use of a daily management system that focuses on the right things and exposes hidden opportunities for improvement. Take this Tier 1 board on TeamAssurance showcasing visual reports across key functions:
The DMS should enable frontline continuous improvement everyday, shift after shift. Our quality teams need to take ownership of quality and this happens by providing them with access to quality standards and tools to identify quality issues.
Frontline workers should be able to suggest improvements and have a way to report issues to management. The system should also enable management to provide feedback to frontline workers on the suggestions they make.
When frontline workers are empowered for quality improvement, the benefits are far-reaching. By identifying and addressing quality issues at the source, the overall quality of the product or service is improved. Empowered frontline workers are more invested in the process and are more likely to suggest improvements that positively impact the customer experience.
The use of a daily management system that focuses on the right things and exposes hidden opportunities for improvement is critical to achieving these benefits.
A C.I. framework to empower the frontline not locally optimised ‘islands’
Empowering individuals in the quality function requires systems that support decision making (and action-taking) at every level. These should supported by the right data and, at all times, be aligned to strategy. Facilitating individual mastery requires systems that allow people to freely access the training & know-how they need to better themselves.
The graphic below illustrates how we designed TeamAssurance as an interconnected platform to achieves these goals. A platform that avoids what we call disconnected ‘Point solutions’ (digital or analog) that do not help sustain either lasting business performance or maximising the potential of an employee.
TeamAssurance enables organisations to make the most of their efforts at the frontlines. If you’re a business in need, or a consultant with clients in need, and you like to explore the opportunities for continuous improvement offered by digital aids to Lean tools contact us for a demonstration.