Continuous Improvement Manager Job Description

Continuous improvement managers monitor and improve organizational processes with the aim of making them as efficient as possible. Research and analysis feature heavily in this role, as continuous improvement managers map out all workflows, remove waste and low-value activities, and recommend solutions. Guided by formal kaizen methodologies, they then take the lead in implementing changes, acting as leaders, managers, and mentors throughout different areas of the organization. They usually work full time in larger companies, staying inside the office or factory most of the time, although those in manufacturing may take on evening shifts in accordance with factory hours.

 

Continuous Improvement Manager Duties and Responsibilities

While a continuous improvement manager’s tasks depend on where they work, there are several core responsibilities associated with this role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:

Analyze Business Processes

Before continuous improvement managers can drive change across the organization, they first analyze existing business processes using various methods such as gap analysis or PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act). This allows them to find opportunities for improvement as well as losses, which they troubleshoot further to determine root causes.

Develop Strategies

Continuous improvement managers act as internal consultants, developing short- and long-term strategies for the organization and incorporating Six Sigma, Agile, and other practices. Their goal is to facilitate progress and reduce costs, both in terms of sales and workflow inefficiencies.

Lead Activities

It’s the job of continuous improvement managers to coordinate and lead key projects for improvement across all levels of the organization. They may supervise several teams directly or collaborate with managers to re-engineer processes.

Monitor Progress

A crucial aspect of the continuous improvement methodology is monitoring progress in order to check if changes yield desirable results. Continuous improvement managers establish measurable standards at the start of a project and then compare actual project results against these, regularly generating detailed update reports for management.

Provide Mentorship

To get best results, organizations must make continuous improvement an integral part of their company culture. Continuous improvement managers serve as coaches who coordinate workshops and team trainings, openly sharing their guidance and technical expertise and ensuring that learning resources are widely available.

 

Continuous Improvement Manager Skills and Qualifications

Continuous improvement managers are highly analytical and experienced with project coordination, using their problem-solving skills to foresee obstacles and make strategic decisions. They are also excellent mentors who can clearly express complex ideas. Aside from a bachelor’s degree in engineering, management, or a related field, employers look for candidates with the following skills:

  • Technical expertise – it’s essential for continuous improvement managers to have a firm understanding of process improvement techniques and experience applying these if they are to make organizational changes
  • Organization skills – continuous improvement managers spearhead both the planning and implementation stages of multiple projects, so they must be organized and committed to meeting deadlines
  • Leadership skills – more than supervisors, continuous improvement managers are coaches and company game-changers, inspiring other team members to give their best effort and setting the direction for many initiatives
  • Analytical thinking – continuous improvement managers critically evaluate individual processes and projects, then synthesize their insights to arrive at a summary of overall organizational status
  • Communication skills – being able to speak, listen, and write well is important, as continuous improvement managers often hold presentations, facilitate meetings and trainings, and create reports

 

Tools of the Trade

To complete all of their job tasks, continuous improvement managers use various tools:

  • Kaizen tools (such as value stream maps, fishbone diagrams, or kaizen newspapers)
  • Business process management software
  • Microsoft Suite (including Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint)

 

Continuous Improvement Manager Education and Training

Candidates for continuous improvement manager positions typically hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, or a related field. Aside from this, most employers require formal certifications in continuous improvement methodologies such as Six Sigma, Accelerated Root Cause, or Transactional Lean. Previous experience is also crucial, and candidates ideally have at least three years of supervising or process management experience.

 

Continuous Improvement Manager Salary and Outlook

Continuous improvement managers earn a median income of around $82,000 every year, according to PayScale. Those in the lowest 10 percent of earners make less than $55,000 annually, while those in the highest 10 percent make more than $110,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that management analysts, who perform many of the same job functions as continuous improvement managers, will experience a growth rate of 14 percent through 2026. Because of increasing market competition, companies are inclined to invest more in continuous improvement managers who can streamline existing processes and cut down losses.

 

Helpful Resources

Read through these resources to learn more about being a continuous improvement manager and break into the field:

The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed – Lean and Six Sigma can be overwhelming for beginning practitioners because of the number of available tools, but this guide gives a concise, easy-to-understand summary of each tool in addition to instructions and examples

Kaizen – owned by the founder of the Lean Six Sigma Group, this LinkedIn community of continuous improvement professionals has more than 21,000 members around the world. Knowledge sharing is its main asset, as members conduct frequent discussions and share resources from thought leaders

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – required reading in many business schools and even for Amazon’s management team, this classic book uses thriller-style fiction to vividly demonstrate how solving bottlenecks maximizes productivity

Kaizen Institute – this company introduced kaizen to the business world, and its founder, Masaaki Imai, wrote the revolutionary book that explained the methodology. Its certification programs are thus the best in the industry, consisting of three challenging levels with a hands-on, project-based approach

Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation – value stream mapping is a lean management technique that analyzes process chains and pinpoints inefficiencies using flowcharts. This book thoroughly explores how to use it to design business strategies and plan for the future

 

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