5 Steps to Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement


"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one." - Mark Twain.

Change happens. But how do we absorb change in a way that drives continuous improvement? How do we handle it when things don't go the way we expect? And are we preparing our organizations well for change?

During UHY Advisor's session at InTheBlack last year, they broke down the cycle of change into four phases:

  • Employees want to do a good job

  • A change event happens

  • This leads to sub-optimal processes with a "fix it later" mentality

  • This becomes the normal routine: "The way we've always done it!"

This cycle is what businesses look like without an environment of continuous improvement, and why instilling this mindset is essential.

Here are UHY’s five steps to create a culture of continuous improvement at your company.

  1. Determine Which Metrics Really Matter
    The metrics that matter most for your organization are not universal. They must be determined internally, and support the goals of the broader business. It’s also essential for these metrics to directly relate to your people.

  2. Design Your Metrics
    This is a three-step process that begins by defining your service approach. Next, align the organizational goals to that approach, and then design the metrics that support your goals.Metrics should encourage the “right” actions from your teams, and be mostly key performance indicators—as opposed to key result indicators.

  3. Empower Your People
    Metrics give your people a sense of ownership for what they do through decision-making. You can empower them even more by building a culture that encourages learning from failure, as well as successes. This kind of culture also fosters both creativity and innovation.Set expectations early on, tap into the institutional knowledge of your team throughout this entire process, have their back, and only intervene when necessary. This will build a solid foundation for adapting to change.

  4. Publish Results Consistently & Often
    Giving your teams visibility into progress and results in the midst of change is essential. Change can make employees feel nervous and uncertain, and when they have gaps in information, they will fill in those gaps with worst-case scenarios.Frequently publishing results, both good and bad, will continually earn buy-in, and help everyone adapt far more quickly.

  5. Communicate Consistently With Your Teams
    Above all, a people-focused approach is key. Communicate the impact of change early and often. Don't be afraid to tell your team what the change means for them, and if you don't know, be honest about that as well.Establish common goals, work together to actively solve problems, and ask your teams for their ideas and feedback. This can bring out the best in everyone, and also generate some of the best ideas.

Last but definitely not least, be sure to celebrate the successes of your team. It’s amazing what a little recognition will do.

Read this blog to learn more about how your organization can successfully transform your processes with a Continuous Accounting approach.