Do Leaders Need Standard Work?


Do Leaders Need Standard Work?

Unlocking the value in your organization requires having an expectation for the specific work carried out by the operation. Standardized steps for checking in a guest at a hotel, renting a car to a traveler, or assembling a cell phone in production are necessary for stabilizing a business. But do the leaders need standard work?

There are two key benefits to leaders having standard work for a portion of their day: 1) it sustains the gains in improvement, and 2) it creates a learning environment.

Sustaining Gains in Improvement

Standardized work defines the content, sequence, timing, and expected outcome for the people carrying out processes in an operation. Similarly, Leader’s Standard Work defines the content, sequence, timing, and expected outcome for the repeatable management activities, including auditing to meet customer and business needs.

We emphasis repeatable to acknowledge that a leader’s day is not 100% predictable. And the amount that is repeatable changes as the role responsibility increases. A supervisor may have 50% of his or her day repeatable, a manager may have 30% repeatable, and a director may have 15%. There should be some portion of the day that is repeated and that repeatable portion needs to be standardized.

This step of auditing as part of a Leader’s Standard Work is critical to sustaining gains. Our experience has been that even the smallest improvements need to be audited.  For example, let’s say an organization creates standardized work for a hotel receptionist to check-in a customer including the content (what they say), sequence (order of activities), timing (how long does it take), and expected outcome (satisfied guest). The leader of the area should observe the standardized check-in process as part of his or her standard work for a day. Every day a portion of the day needs to be dedicated to the leader’s standard work and audits of critical processes.

Creating a Learning Environment

Leader’s Standard Work promotes learning between both the leader and his or her team, as well as between the leader and his or her boss. First, the consistent routine of auditing recent improvements and critical processes helps the leader learn how effectively the change or process is working as well as if it is truly being followed. This creates opportunities for the leader to catch people doing it right and thanking them. It also allows them to correct behavior.

Secondly, the consistent routine of auditing and executing repeatable steps promotes learning between the leader and his or her boss. They can agree on what is important to audit and what is critical to execute every day. They can also agree on what isn’t getting completed. It is one thing to say, “I just don’t have time.” It is a much better discussion to say, “Here is what I have standardized in my day – what do you think?”

Standard work for a leader builds stability into the leader’s day, builds the relationship with his or her boss, and most importantly, it builds stability in the organization.

Should a leader have standard work? … Yes!

Learn more in Patrick’s book, “Facilitating Effective Change,” available online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

Patrick Putorti

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