Your standards define you
Joe, project engineer for a Northwest heavy civil contractor, told Session 8 of Turbo’s Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“During our weekly Cornelius project meeting this morning, one of the city representatives who attends our meetings brought up a safety concern. The representative informed me that a homeowner had called to report that she had seen our loader operator driving his machine on city streets while talking on his cell phone. This reminded me of Turbo’s DARE+ Correction Process, especially since this was our subject of instruction in class two weeks earlier. After the project meeting, I pulled the operator to the side and told him about the complaint. Then I asked him what happened. I was careful to listen as he grasped for a response. He told me that if he answers the phone, it is because I am calling or our foreman is calling. He felt that if we were calling, it was okay to answer. I told him I understood and appreciated his desire to be responsive. Then I restated our standard of not to using cell phones while operating rolling stock or any other power equipment. I told him why this standard is so important; that his life and limb are at stake and that of the people in the neighborhoods where we work. He agreed to pull over and stop, and then return calls in the future if we call him.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is that while I may think a standard is clear to everyone, the person on the other side may see it differently, may think that the boss is the exception or that they are the exception. The action I call you to take is to make sure all standards are clearly communicated. Sell the standard and the reason for it. The benefit you will gain is a high performance team who respects you and operates safely to high standards.”
Everyone who violates a work standard thinks they will or should get away with it, that they are the exception, think they are
above it all. An important part of your job is to make sure everyone under your influence understands that your commitment to standards is so high that no one is above it.
When holding your team accountable to performance standards, it is important they know that you are the bearer of the standard, not just a demanding boss who wants it your way. This isn’t about what you want or are demanding; it simply is the standard we have all agreed to that we all stand for. The standards we stand for give us pride and a sense of identity, a sense of belonging. Gather your team together today and ask them to tell you one of your organizations’ standards, one that they take pride in, identify with, and will champion.
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