Also known as continuous quality improvement plans or CIPs, continuous improvement plans are programs designed to review specific situations and identify strategies for enhancing or improving all related factors. Plans of this type are sometimes used by businesses to develop continuing education and cross-training programs for their employees as part of the ongoing mentoring process. The approach can also be used to review procedures in the workplace and find ways to increase the general efficiency and production.
The CIP or continuous improvement process can be employed to evaluate policies and procedures in just about any business setting. The idea is to make something that is already good even better, thus benefiting the company in general. For example, a company may look closely at a production process and determine that by reorganizing one step into two steps, and adding another person to the production line, it becomes possible to produce a significantly higher number of units per hour.
When the continuous improvement plan focuses on employees, the goal is often to provide ongoing training opportunities that not only help employees with their current responsibilities, but also prepare them for advancement through the company structure. Based on the background and aptitude of the individual employee, managers and others will use various means to further develop various skills, provide training for tasks that the employee is deemed capable of managing, and mentor the employee throughout the process. As time goes on, the performance level of the employee is reevaluated, and the improvement program is refined, based on the additional data available.
It is also possible to design a continuous improvement plan that provides ongoing opportunities for several employees. Often, the plan will include continued instruction in areas such as resource planning, team leadership, business management, and other training that is considered important to the company’s continued operation. There is no one set model for designing a continuous improvement plan, although most plans will include periodic reviews of not only the progress of employees, but also the structure and design of the plan itself.
Employers benefit directly from the implementation of some sort of continuous improvement plan. Employees who feel the company is willing to invest time and other resources in them will normally hold a more positive view of the company in general. This often translates into higher productivity in the current position. At the same time, the continuous improvement plan provides the business with a pool of highly qualified employees who can be promoted from within when positions come open, rather than hiring from outside. In many cases, this ability to promote from within makes it possible for the employee to take over the new responsibilities with little to no time required to settle into the new situation.