Stand up for training to standards
Doug, the scaffold manager for a local heavy equipment rental company, told Session 7 of the Leadership Development Lab:
"In late 2004, we began employing both union carpenters and union laborers in our daily activities. This creates multiple options for payroll wage codes and a lot of opportunities for errors. For the past couple of years, the payroll department has been correcting a high percent of the daily time cards because the field guys just didn’t seem to be able to get them right.
We put together a full list of names that included the union affiliation, apprenticeship level, Oregon code, and the Washington code. We also installed “mail boxes” for all the guys. I explained to everybody that they now had all the information needed to correctly fill out the daily timecards. They understood that if their card wasn’t completely correctly, their timecard would be rejected. It would go in their mailbox. If they didn’t check the mailbox daily, they could potentially be paid short since the payroll department would no longer correct daily time cards.
After a one week grace period, their timecards were rejected. The first week, they were hand delivered to make sure the problem with the cards was recognized, then we moved ahead with the plan. The number of cards getting rejected has continued to go down as the guys fully understand what is required. They have all the resources available to them to fulfill
their obligation of meeting the standards on timecard coding.
The lesson I learned is that I can’t expect to set high standards and get desired results unless I provide others with all of the needed tools and information to successfully fulfill my request.
The action I want you to take is to look closely at your performance procedures and standards. Make sure you’re not asking for something that isn’t possible because of a lack of needed tools, information, or training.
The benefit you will gain is an empowered work force. You will reduce redundancies and rework. Everyone will be happy and morale will go up."
The story of poorly coded timecards is too often told in a whining, complaining manner, and no solution is found. Doug took the action that was necessary to ensure that his people had both the information and training to do what was necessary and then held them accountable for results. This is the kind of respectful, problem-solving leadership that empowers all team members to perform at a higher level. Well, how about you? What are some of the plaguing problems that have been hanging around your organization for too long that people are complaining about, blaming, naming, and shaming, instead of claiming their part in the problem and reframing the situation to a problem statement that demands a solution?