These days, many people have a hard time understanding why some people don’t seem to know how or care about doing the “right things” the “right way.”
It seems that it’s more important to them to do things “their way,” instead of following a standard method which delivers the defined results, and is repeatable across all of the individuals performing the same task.
So why are standards created?
Why are they important?
And how do we get our people to embrace, follow and improve upon them?
When we follow standards, it allows us to establish, measure and assure a level of quality, and predictability to our clients, and to one another.
I believe we sometimes “train” our people without truly educating them. We show them “how” to do something – often in a “do it this way because I told you to” manner – instead of practicing the “why, what, how” method of educating them.
Why the standard or level of quality is important is key to providing context and meaning for the person involved in the work. This explanation needs to “speak to the person listening”. I’ll be using “technician” in this example – but standards live within every function (Sales, Procurement, PM, Finance, etc.).
Telling a technician that doing a better job at pulling cable will increase profits, when there is no understanding of what profits do to help a company, or a tie back to a profit sharing plan, doesn’t motivate the Tech.
It is better to explain that by pulling and terminating cables, and testing them to a standard, it reduces or eliminates the chances of having to come back to the job site and do it again. That reasoning works better because it provides context in a way the Tech understands and relates to his work.
Showing what the standards are in a visible fashion (pictures, diagrams, etc.) and being able to reference them, are essential to visualizing and matching the quality standard. For example, having a set of laminated cards which show terminations, labels, etc. provides a clarity that’s hard to argue – and creates a uniformity across all of the crews.
Providing hands-on (their hands on) training on how to fulfill the standards, is fundamental – and doing it with all of the technicians builds a shared sense of camaraderie, responsibility and accountability. It also has them “own the standard” and the management of continued practice.
If everyone knows, practices, and adheres to the standard, then those who don’t follow standards can be singled out by their peers – who can then distinguish between a required level of competence (which can be corrected), and ‘special’ behavior (which is a choice).
What can you do differently today? Need help? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a guest post from our partners at Navigate Management Consulting, and was written by Brad Malone.
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