Why do some organizations have teams that are consistently striving to sharpen their skills, and others have teams that reek of complacency?  We work with hundreds of companies in Texas, and we’ve seen a clear pattern.

It starts with the attitude AND actions from above.

Managers that “send” their people to training, but never seem to work on themselves, tend to get lukewarm enthusiasm from their employees to change or grow.  Managers that don’t feel like they need to grow themselves can be perceived as “uninspiring” at best, or “arrogant” at worst.  Either way, their people are not motivated to improve, at least not for the benefit of that particular manager or organization.

Here are actions a manager can take to create a culture of continuous improvement:

  1. Let’s start with ourselves.  WE set the tone of our team’s culture.  If our team members see us continuously trying to sharpen our skills, they will follow our example.  Confucius said, “Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean.”  Walk the talk.
  2. Make it a core value, and talk about it often.  Talk about it in one-on-one meetings with team members, and talk about it at larger meetings.  We can’t expect people to read our minds, and if we don’t openly express this value as a priority, we can’t blame them for falling short.
  3. Reward those that go for it.  This doesn’t have to cost a dime.  Recognizing those that stretch outside their comfort zones during team meetings, in company newsletters, and on company social media will trigger a competitive impulse among team members, and reinforce the core value.

The amazing thing is that once we’ve developed a culture in which everyone is trying to improve themselves, the continuous improvement of products, services, and processes happens naturally!  Take these actions, and you’ll develop the kind of team that will outrun your competitors in the market.

Posted by Ryan M. Akins

Investor, Entrepreneur, Listener and Learner. Ryan currently serves as Regional President of Dale Carnegie for the North Texas region. He graduated from The Dale Carnegie Course in 2011.

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