Applying Lean/Continuous Improvement to Human Resources

At its heart, the Lean/Continuous Improvement (CI) management philosophy is all about:

  • Continuous Process Improvement
  • Respect for People

When Lean/CI thinking and tools are applied to the core HR roles of:

  1. Providing HR Services to the Organization,
  2. Complying with Personnel Regulations, and
  3. Enhancing Organizational Performance,

several new specific HR roles emerge.  Like other parts of the organization, HR improves its own processes using Lean/CI thinking and tools.  HR also has unique reponsibilities in developing others’ Lean/CI skills, actively supporting improvement efforts, balancing efficiency and compliance, and facilitating culture change.

Human Resources can use Lean/CI to influence staff behavior and ability to perform. Staff work within a system that includes:

  • Expectations and Feedback
  • Tools and Resources
  • Consequences and Incentives

While supervisors actually manage staff, the system and support typically come from HR. The better job HR does in crafting and improving the system, and in training, coaching, and supporting supervisors, the more positively the system influences staff performance.

In addition, HR can use Lean/CI thinking and tools to:

  • Influence leaders to focus on customer-defined value and building staff capabilities
  • Create HR plans that align with strategic and operational business plans
  • Improve talent flow through the organization

Ultimately, the systems and underlying culture based on Lean/CI principles will transform how people think and behave, create a ‘spirit’ of innovative problem-solving, and influence behavior to continually improve performance. This, in turn, will help the business achieve its goals.

Thank you for your attention, 

John&Partners team.


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