Continuous improvement is the process of continuously measuring a company's efficiency and striving to improve it. Many larger companies hire continuous improvement managers, but smaller companies often mandate that other managers add the job to their duties. There are various types of businesses that require continuous improvement jobs, ranging from manufacturing to customer service companies. Most employers require applicants to have several years of experience and at least a bachelor's degree in business, engineering, or another business-related discipline. Usually continuous improvement workers need to be proficient in business practices such as Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, and others.
All continuous improvement jobs have the same goal: to improve a company's efficiency by analyzing the current process and improving upon it. Applicants need to be skillful in the principles, applications, and tools of the major business practices. Often businesses want applicants who have a black belt in Six Sigma and the equivalent training in other programs, such as the theory of constraints.
In manufacturing, continuous improvement is vital to keeping a company competitive. Usually the job of the continuous improvement manager is to access the current manufacturing processes, plan actions to improve it, and educate the workers and management on the importance of the changes. Since people generally resist change, a continuous improvement manager needs to have good people skills. Sometimes companies label this position as director of transformational change or continuous improvement change agent, because continuous improvement typically means frequent changes.
The service industry also benefits from continuous improvement. Whereas a continuous improvement manager in manufacturing spends a large amount of his time on the processes, a manager in the service industry monitors customer satisfaction. The same tools — Lean, 5S, and others — still apply, so applicants need expertise in these tools. Businesses may label this position as leadership development specialist or manager, because the person is leading people in improving the business.
Another employment opportunity for a continuous improvement manager is in the education field. Many universities and school systems offer many continuous improvement jobs, ranging from department head to entry-level workers. Universities often have more than three workers in the continuous improvement department. This is a good way for a person to gain experience.
The continuous improvement jobs in health care facilities, social service departments, and other people-related industries are similar to service industry jobs. Often these jobs are labeled director of risk management, continuous quality improvement coordinator, or a similar title. Smaller hospitals may rely on other directors or department heads to cover this position.
A person who is seeking a job as a continuous improvement manager may be asked to travel. Often international security and protection companies require their managers to travel to foreign countries to coordinate continuous improvement in several locations. Other continuous improvement jobs that may require travel are in the logistics field, banking, and other businesses that have multiple locations.