3 Things You Can Do When Your Manager Doesn’t Support Continuous Improvement

By Ron Pereira Updated on May 17th, 2017

We lean bloggers like to preach the importance of senior management support as it relates to continuous improvement.

To be sure, having senior management support is extremely important and without it the hill to continuous improvement success can be mighty steep.

But, let’s be honest here folks. I’m guessing a large percentage of you reading this either have or have had managers who don’t/didn’t support lean and six sigma improvement efforts.

So what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Here are three things.

1. Make your Manager Shine

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. ~Paul Hawken

Many times when a manager doesn’t support continuous improvement it’s because they don’t see the value in it.

The best way to combat this is to demonstrate the value without them asking you to.

In other words, make something better and let them know about it.

And when I say make it better I mean it. Do something to positively impact the business.

Do something your manager will be proud to report to their leadership at the end of the month. Work to reduce defects, improve OTD on a key product line, 5S the so called dark corner of the plant.

You see if you make them look good a few times they will almost certainly thirst for more.

2. Self Educate

Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life. ~Henry L. Doherty

In order for the first point to happen you must seek knowledge. And if your manager doesn’t support continuous improvement chances are they are not willing to fund your lean or six sigma education.

Don’t you dare let this stop you.

There are tons of free lean and six sigma resources available. Click over on our Video tab and watch free Gemba Academy videos. Read blogs like this one and the Gemba Academy Blog. Go to the library and read books.

In short, if you truly want to find information you can… and in many cases this information is 100% free.

3. Don’t Give Up

“But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” ~Matthew 24:13

In order to succeed at the two recommendations above the most important tip I can offer is to never ever give up.

Sure it’s easy for “experts” to tell you to quit and find another employer who will care… but that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. You have bills to pay and kids to feed now.

So keep fighting… keep learning… keep improving.  If you do this, one thing is for certain, you and the organization you work for will be better off even if they don’t realize it.

  1. Eric Thomas

    August 2, 2011 - 11:07 am

    Nice list. number 3 is most important of all..

    • Ron Pereira

      August 2, 2011 - 11:08 am

      Thanks, Eric. Number 3 is also the hardest! 😉

  2. Martin Hickey

    August 2, 2011 - 11:18 am

    I actually talk to some of this in the second half of my Podcast. More on not getting into this situation more than anything else.

  3. Will

    August 3, 2011 - 1:56 pm

    Reminded me of something I wrote today about how getting an education is important to becoming a better leader and a better person but the article I wrote was about key aspects of becoming a Statesman, but nonetheless, self-education and leadership are linked.

  4. Dwain Scott

    August 4, 2011 - 11:38 am

    Perfect list I am going through the exact problem. As a front line supervisor and no support it makes it very challenging. I agree with each of the three steps. I am deep in the education process now books, blogs and videos. When upper management does not want to stop the line until something breaks makes it more of a challenge. I find that just pressing forward and trying to bring the people on the floor to your way of thinking makes it much easier to show what can be done. Thanks for a wonderful post Ron. Printing it out so I can remind myself everyday.

  5. Johan

    August 25, 2011 - 4:13 pm

    In addition to the good ideas presented,

    I share this tip I got once:

    You don’t get support from boss due to insecurities or safeguarding too much,

    – just skip the approval and go do it yourself!

    Try if this can apply to your situation, do it in a safe setting and environment and share the results. I am pretty sure you’ll have succes with it.

    Note: Of course you should keep boss informed and make boss feel in loop on all important aspects.

    • Bob

      August 29, 2011 - 1:18 pm

      Did just that.

      I was once told it was easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. And when they saw how successful it was, I didn’t have to ask…

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