5 ways to get leadership buy-in for process improvement
Leaders drive change. When your exec team leads the charge in your process improvement efforts, it could mean the difference between success and failure for your organization.
Execs who are on board can enable a positive process management culture by demonstrating their confidence in the benefits for the organization, and being clear that they expect teams across the business to do the same.
They also have the power to make strategic and resourcing decisions related to the training and implementation of process improvement training.
Help your leaders see the light
Exec teams will have a number of initiatives already demanding their time, energy and budget. When presenting your case for the value of process improvement, be clear on why your initiatives deserve exec attention and support.
There are 5 ways to get your leadership team on board with your process improvement efforts:
• Get context on what’s gone before
Start by reviewing the organization’s original reasons for embarking on a process improvement journey. List issues they wanted to address, and counter those with how process improvement can offer solutions. If any of the original instigators are still there, get their input on what they’d hoped to achieve.
If the original team that kickstarted the process improvement journey is no longer with the organization, look at the current strategic priorities that business teams are focussing on. You could use this opportunity to show that a more effective process improvement approach can help to align teams to the strategy and support initiatives, and that exec support can successfully embed this change.
Think about what the organization aims to achieve and consider how you can tag on to these objectives. For instance, how can you reach your goal if teams aren’t clear about what is expected of them every day? Perhaps processes vary according to the geographical locations of your offices, and there is confusion about who does what – how can everyone use a single source of truth to increase cohesion and effectiveness?
• Know what’s close to their hearts
It would be to your advantage to know what business issues your execs feel passionately about. Target the topics they are invested in – the issues they care about more than other execs who are on the leadership team.
Before you approach a specific sponsor in your organization, have an idea what their priorities are and what they view as being important. Your HR director may be focused on managing varying legislations for teams spread across offices in different geographies. The major concern for your head of operations may be to control risk, while your director of customer success may envisage a platform that standardizes service levels and results in happy clients.
• Highlight potential hurdles
Generally, people are more easily motivated by a desire to avoid pain than they are to achieve a win. One sure way to get the attention of your exec teams is to raise awareness of potential hurdles the organizations would do well to avoid.
If you can identify problem areas and present a potential remedy, you’re more likely to convince your leaders to get on board. Take your findings a step further. Amplify the problem, quantify it, and explain why it could hurt the organization. Then show how process management, supported by an improvement culture, can help.
Another approach is to narrow your investigations down and start with a particular team or role, rather than the whole organization. For instance, you could make a start by approaching the CEO or HR director first.
• Paint a complete picture
Rather than simply asking your senior execs for buy-in, gather evidence to prove the impact and cost of poor process management. Find ways to tell the whole story about what process improvement could do for your business teams every day, and back those claims up with facts and figures.
Avoid being vague when talking about the software used to support your organization’s continuous improvement efforts. Highlight the benefits that your platform provides and make it tangible. Use statements like: ‘Our intuitive BPM software engages whole teams in continuous improvement, by making processes accessible, encouraging process reviews and providing an easy feedback system.’
Ask your software vendor for case studies that showcase how their customers have benefitted from implementing business process management software. These examples could include personal testimonials, client referrals and stats to illustrate efficiency gains.
• Sell the opportunity to leave a legacy
Many executives are passionate about what they do and care about making a lasting impact on their organization.
Implementing a process improvement culture can make a real difference to business teams and to the success of an organization. Execs are well-positioned to leave a legacy with the support of engaged teams who are executing processes aligned to the business strategy.
Start the conversation
Speak a language that your exec team can relate to. By knowing their pain points and their passions, you can start a conversation that piques their interest and holds their attention. Share stories with the right people about how the organization and its teams are being hindered by poor processes.
Regardless of whether your organization’s vocabulary includes terms like business process management, workflow, process improvement or continuous improvement, getting commitment from your leadership team to support meaningful process improvement isn’t about navigating a corporate structure – it’s about people.