10 tips to liven up standardized work

Our employees are responsible for the team’s success and management is responsible for its failures; to perform is always to be the best, optimize and do a better job tomorrow. In operations, we use standardized work, among other things, to always go further.

1.       Be accountable for your team’s performance

Originally, the manager generates an economic performance. This isn’t new (enunciated by Pete Drucker in 1954 in his book, Practice of Management.) 

2.      A sound mind in a sound workspace

There is nothing better than a well-organized space and a free mind to get a good job done. And this is true for all services.

Make sure that your teams can rely on optimized workspaces. In production and assembly, create workstations that are perfectly adapted to the job, with modular systems. In offices, make sure that piles of files are put away at the end of the day and don’t forget to keep everything tidy in the computer network, by performing a regular cleanup.

Take pictures when everything is neat and tidy…and look at them when you feel the environment leaves a lot to be desired. Lead by example, as we usually require of ourselves what we want of others. 


3.      Bring work back to the basics

In order to always improve, one should always question oneself. To that effect, your employees are your best allies. Involve them in the improvement of your work methods and discuss it with them!


You can follow these steps:

  1. Break down work into steps and number them
  2. Discuss each of these steps with your employees, understand the essence together and identify the opportunities for improvement
  3. Think of ways to optimize each of these steps
  4. Apply the improved work method together

Be thankful to all employees for their involvement and the expertise they acquire every day while working. Always remember that it is their work that your clients purchase.


4.      Set up the basics and make them grow   

Once the workload has been fractioned, the results must be put on paper. PhD thesis are very useful in college, but in the field, you need to prove yourself. Establish the bases of what has to be done, even if it isn’t perfect, it can always be improved over time. You will therefore create a place where you will make the most of your staff’s experience. Experience is the sum of our mistakes…and to benefit from it, the know-how needs to be consolidated. The war for improvement is one that is continuously fought. We will certainly win battles, but the fight must go on day after day.

5.      Give meaning to their work

To perform their duties well, employees need to understand them. Don’t just show them the starting point and the finish line.

Explain to them the important details of the job and the reasons why it is done that way. Thus, you will give meaning and importance to what they do.

6.      Standard time ≠ average time

Too often, we use estimates to guess at the duration of a task. Standard time doesn’t have anything to do with the time it takes to complete a task using various operators. Standard time is the time required to complete a specific task using the best known methods. All in all, standard time is the happy result of the improvement of a secret recipe.

7.      The devil is in the details!

Oftentimes, you think you are in full control of the situation, then a client makes a complaint, because of a detail that slipped through the cracks. Or you notice you’re missing an important tool on Tuesday night when there's a delivery planned for Wednesday morning. Being 99.99% good is not enough, because customers are more and more demanding, we need to be Excellent at all times! In conclusion, get involved in details with rigor... all the time.

8.      Down with paper!

Nowadays, mobile devices give employees direct access to information. Thank you, Mr. Jobs for the advent of tablets in 2010. We can now get rid of the heavy burden of paper, illustrations, photos and videos. Visit www.dozuki.com to learn more, and see Documentation Just Became Painless.

9.      Take control of task training

Work procedures are essential, but you need to make sure that they are passed along to the employees. You are responsible for the development of your teams’ operational skills and must offer them the necessary resources to progress. You act as the pivot between the apprentice and the trainer. Develop a detailed and rigorous training plan, set clear goals, and follow each employee’s output every week.


10.               If the apprentice hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.

This is a fairly simple rule that is easy to remember. Your trainers need to efficiently train the apprentices by teaching them the key steps of their work, apply their teachings in practice, check that the job is well done and proceed with adjustments if needed.

Ask your trainers to use the instructions they probably put together themselves and don’t let them teach using the “trial and error” method. So, when somebody tells you the new guy doesn’t understand anything, refer them to tip #10…

Bonus               Measure, measure, measure

Surely, you already put this in practice (am I right?)! If the manager’s responsibility is to generate results, his or her main tools are indicators. Performance measuring is fundamental to managers as well as their employees.

It’s simple, communicate yesterday’s results to better present today’s goals!

The author:

 Benoit Chouinard, ing.

Main associate at Solutions vSmart, continual improvement and management infrastructure specialist.


Leadership | Engagement | Excellence

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