Thought Leadership

The Importance of Continuous Improvement and How to Improve Your Skills

Tim Romig
EVP, Managing Director & Market President, PA and NJ at Customers Bank

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To be competitive in today’s business environment and in the future requires an individual to have an adaptive attitude and focus on continuous improvement. This requires the self-motivation and drive to constantly strive to do a better job and find new opportunities to improve their business, their processes, customer experiences and themselves.

Regardless of your industry, without this hunger, you will be left behind as the nature of business is predicated on the need to develop advantages over your competitors in the marketplace. This also holds true with distinguishing yourself from your colleagues to advance within an organization.

Team Members who demonstrate this leadership competency have a mindset of continued growth, innovation and the constant pursuit of excellence. They challenge themselves to keep learning, to discover new opportunities to improve and are open and receptive to feedback. The characteristics they display include advocating for collaboration, adaptability and strategic thinking. Team Members who develop these skills and attributes also take a greater sense of ownership in their work and their contributions to the organization, thus making them more valuable to their employers.

To develop your own skills, start by always striving to learn more, improve your skill set and challenge yourself to keep growing. You and you alone are responsible for either moving forward or backward; you are never just sitting still. Remember, continuous improvement is a journey that will last your entire life, not a destination to be reached.

There are various models for continuous improvement, but to get started on your journey, it is helpful to examine several of the core components consistent in each variation.

Identify
Continuous improvement begins with identifying opportunities. This could be something you want to learn more about to further your knowledge or develop greater skills. It could be identifying a process that could be improved. One of the most crucial aspects of the identification process is to analyze and quantify the desired outcome.

Plan
Planning is the key to success. Once you know your desired outcome and how to get there, you have to create the steps to follow to achieve the desired result. This could be a long-term plan to learn a new instrument or a short-term plan to create and implement a new process that creates greater efficiency or enhanced value to customers or the business.

Execute
With your plan finalized, you know the optimal solution and are ready to take action. Implement your plan and make adjustments as you progress. Evaluate each step to determine if improvements can be implemented along the way or if additional considerations need to be taken into account.

Evaluation
The evaluation process is a critical component of continuous improvement. This is the time to study the results and recognize adjustments that can be instituted to improve outcomes. If your result did not generate the desired improvement, what needs to change? If your plan was successful, take the time to celebrate the win and then start the process over again. If you improved a process, what other process could be improved? If you learned a new language, what skill are you going to learn next?

The advice I offer to colleagues beginning their careers is to pursue what they are passionate about. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, it is extremely challenging to find opportunities for improvement and the continued desire to grow and learn. The good news is that continuous improvement is much easier today than it has ever been. Any information you want to learn is literally available at your fingertips.

You can type a specific word into the Google Chrome browser* and access all the information you need. If you want to understand financial statement analysis or any ratio used in banking, or common acronyms, if you have the initiative to Google those terms, you can learn exactly what they are. The YouTube video community* is another great resource that can be used to learn just about everything.

Most importantly, don’t sell yourself short. Take the initiative and push yourself to keep improving in every aspect of your life. Remember, if you say you could have done better if only you tried, you have wasted a lot of your valuable time and natural abilities. Be passionate about what you strive to do and be the absolute best that you can be.

* Customers Bank has no association with Google or the YouTube video community.