A good standard is worthless until implemented and enforced. (I am a perfect example. I know a thousand good diets. Most I’ve never implemented and those implemented haven’t been enforced. My photo shows how well that works!)
Notification is the most important part of implementation. Once you have a good standard you need to notify all involved—team members—that the new standard will take effect (be implemented) at a certain time and date. Such notification should be in writing and each team member should respond in writing (a sign-off will work) that he or she has received and read the standard. Notification should explain the standard and inform team members to whom they can go for clarification.
Note: Some knowledgeable people think that notification should require those involved to also sign off that they agree to comply with the standard and should further explain the consequences of noncompliance. I disagree, for reasons that will be explained as we get into enforcement.
This is where companies get it wrong. When I do workshops on standards the most frequently asked question by managers is, “What do I do when they don’t comply?” It seems they are more interested in revenge than in compliance.
The goal of enforcement is to bring about compliance, not to punish noncompliance. The key is to accept no (repeat, no) noncompliant behavior. That is management’s role, and management drops the ball on this more often than not. I once explained this in a workshop. In the owner’s office afterward he called me to his window. “Look at those people fueling that jet,” he said, “The standard is that we never fuel an aircraft without grounding truck and airplane to each other and to the ground. They’ve grounded plane and truck to each other, but not to the ground. Are you saying I should stop what I’m doing, rush out there and chew them out right now?” “No,” I responded, “I’m saying you should calmly call their crew chief and tell her to run out there and make them stop fueling immediately until everything is grounded properly. That way the message is that you are watching and that noncompliant behavior is not accepted. Also, you get their boss involved instead of going over her head. You’ll be surprised how fast the entire team will figure out that this behavior is not gonna work.”
You must realize that refusing to accept noncompliance will sometimes cost time and money, particularly when the team is getting familiar with a new standard. This was obvious when the industry started requiring ear protection for ramp workers. In the rush of a busy day, ramp personnel often forgot ear protection when they rushed out to fuel an aircraft. The temptation was for the supervisor to wait until fueling was completed, then admonish the team member to never do that again. Proper procedure is for the supervisor to stop the fueling—or finish it himself—while the team member goes back for ear protection.
Yes, that action is inconvenient, costly and hard to do in the heat of business. In the long run, it works better and more inexpensively than the alternatives. It also meets other rules of good management—the criticism follows the misdeed quickly and is aimed at the misdeed rather than the team member.
Noncompliant behavior might be cause for additional training, written reports and/or meetings with supervisors. There is a point at which noncompliance should, must, result in termination of employment. In some cases (i.e. drug usage) that point might be reached with the first occurrence. The employment guide should firmly and specifically state that one such occurrence would result in termination.
Finally, our ultimate goal is improved safety. In 1991, when Pete Correll became president and chief operating officer (later CEO) of Georgia-Pacific, he had a problem. Making forest products is a rough business and the safety record was not good. Pete set out to change that. By 1997 the injury rate at Georgia-Pacific had become, according to OSHA, “about one-third the injury rate at the average bank—a place where the scariest piece of machinery around is most likely a photocopier.”
A good standard is minimum, trainable, measurable and of behavior, not outcome.
Standardized practices form a baseline for continued improvement