Many times we count on our leadership team to be fully knowledgeable about industry standards and best practices. It is not uncommon that with their management background leaders may not possess the depth of experience, training opportunities or available research time to be intimately familiar with how we perform our daily tasks. This calls for a management style I affectionately term “managing by walking around.” As a manager, if you would take the time to simply walk around your own operation and speak with the people who are asked to perform the daily tasks that ensure the safety and profitability of our organization we may come to learn where the gaps and shortfalls exist. In other words inspect what you expect.
Inspect what you expect
Two things are benefited from management taking the time to learn how the front-line personnel perform the daily tasks. The need does not exist to announce your inspection of the operation; simply ask questions about how they do the things they do. Once they are able to verify your sincere interest in how they perform the tasks, they may be apt to share intimacies of successes or struggles they endure. The responses and input the manager receives is invaluable to the point that it would not have been attainable by sitting in a second floor corner office while claiming an open-door policy. By becoming the leader who takes time to be intimately aware of how his staff performs their tasks, what tools and equipment they need, and what types of challenges they face, you will develop a relationship based on respect, caring and trust. The result is employees who would be willing to rope the moon for you.
When front-line employees are asked to perform daily checks or routine maintenance, there should be accompanying paperwork. Regular inspection of this paperwork is a basic requirement. However, taking time to ensure that the daily checks or routine maintenance are being performed properly is what glues a team together. Team members should understand how to do the task, in addition to why do the task. Correctly documenting successful completion, many times may only become a regular practice with the knowledge that at any random moment a knowledgeable member of the leadership team might perform a quality check. This tends to “glue” the team together in performing and documenting procedures.
Who would ever know
It is extremely important that when tasks are completed that they are documented. This is particularly critical in any type of fueling or maintenance operation. It is obvious that if the task had not been completed it should not be documented as if it were. Vice versa; if a task has been completed yet not documented. Remember that if an accident or incident occurs, and you ever needed to defend that the task was completed, unless an objective third party witnessed it, it would be challenged that it ever happened. In Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great” the author uses the analogy of a bus to describe hiring practices, and to make the point that who you put on your bus is highly critical. Be sure you have the right people in the right seats on the bus; in other words, their skills, talents, and demeanor are suited to their role. This is of enormous benefit when transitioning an organization from good to great. However, you have to trust the people you have working for you. Not just a blind trust, but a knowing trust that every team member in your organization is performing the tasks safely, correctly and timely, even when no one is looking. This knowing trust is derived by your actual inspection of the claims that have been documented.
Moving on up
This leadership style of managing by walking around can also provide great information that can be utilized during a team member’s regular review. All too often employment status review is a brief glimpse of what have you done for me lately. If you employ this leadership style and effectively witness first hand how safely, efficiently, and timely your team members are performing their tasks, you will have a catalog of information to reflect back on when their team member review is due.
Standardized practices form a baseline for continued improvement
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