Continuous Improvement

In my previous blog, I spoke about Change Management and of course Continuous Improvement is one of the reasons for change. This month’s blog goes more into my experience and thoughts on Continuous Improvement (CI).

As a rule, organisations, both large and small, as part of their business plan should include timelines and strategies to affect change through continuous improvement. It might be through an annual evaluation of the services being provided to determine if systems or processes need to be improved. As part of this, identifying that an upgrade to the latest software or hardware is important after say 2-3 years to improve the speed and effectiveness of the equipment – an essential part of business. Some organisations will have maintenance contracts to ensure as least disruption to business as possible and will receive recommendations from the contractor to upgrade and thereby improve the equipment as necessary.

One of many personal examples of continuous improvement I can provide, reflecting on my previous experience as a Manager and a Personal Assistant, is the need for a Style guide. A Style Guide is part of branding in organisations. Larger organisations might have their own dedicated Marketing department to fulfil this role as part of the organisation’s marketing plan. However, some smaller organisations may not have thought this was important. If you wish to impress upon your stakeholders, you are a professional organisation then large company or small, a Style Guide is essential. It includes typography (specific font); writing style and templates for e.g. newsletters, letterhead and email signature block and all marketing materials, including the logo design and colours for printing. The purpose is to ensure consistency and professional output across the organisation. There is nothing worse than each member of staff sending out different letter layouts and different email signature blocks that do not properly reflect the professionalism of the organisation.

Therefore, as a Style Guide would be used by all staff, leaders could encourage Personal Assistants and/or Administrative staff to participate in the process of creating a Style Guide and then provide the necessary training and support to the rest of the organisation right up to management. Sometimes such teams have a TOR (Terms of Reference) providing specific guidelines on what the purpose of the Style Guide team is and this could include specific timelines. Remember, participation in teams such as this bode well when it comes to performance reviews as you are actively participating in Continuous Improvement for your organisation which shows a good commitment to their procedures and policies.

What about a Contact/Customer List? Do you have a central contacts database in your organisation or do each of your senior staff maintain their own database or business card lists? This is not cost-effective for the organisation if correspondence is being returned because addresses and contacts are out of date and is a waste of time and money. A central contacts database that is well maintained is a much better idea but requires input from staff when they are aware of updated information. Perhaps also scheduling a time to contact your stakeholders to update your records. Any communication with your stakeholders will then show professionalism as you are maintaining that relationship. As an example, in following up a stakeholder, I received positive feedback and they said “thanks for ringing I have been meaning to get in touch with you because of………”

This is only a snapshot of some ideas for Continuous Improvement and of course there are many more. In closing, I am reminded of something I read when studying for my Diploma in Business Frontline Management, the Japanese word “kaizen” and its approach is “Let’s keep examining everything we do and see how we can do better”. (Cole, 2001 – Second Edition, p. 275). I think that should be an approach for all organisations (large or small) that it is no good ‘sitting on your laurels’ and thinking you are doing good things without reviewing periodically. Overall, it adds to the efficiency and professionalism of your company.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog and if you would like to make improvements in your organisation but don’t have the time, why not consider a Virtual Assistant and contact me