Operational excellence will be near impossible without a strong and continuous contribution from frontline leaders.
A good frontline leader will be getting what should be done, when it should be done, the way they need it done by people who want it that way. Such a frontline leader will be well on the way to standardisation. The very best companies recognise the pivotal role played by their frontline leaders and are continually aiming for and supporting standardisation.
Frontline leaders are regularly confronted with issues that they can positively impact that, if otherwise ignored, will lead to nonstandardised work. (Non-standardised work is where what is actually happening doesn’t match the documented standard.)
Such issues must be addressed. In healthcare non-standardised work can lead to increased risk of medical error where the consequences could be catastrophic. In manufacturing non standardised work can lead to product quality failure or late delivery for example. Not quite so catastrophic perhaps but the customer may well look somewhere else.
Oftentimes we promote our best nurses or operators to frontline leadership. These doers were the people best at delivering standardised work and we expect they will get the exact same outcome from the people they are now in charge of even though the frontline leader is now not actually doing the work.
In very simple terms they will be confronted with barriers to standardised work they may never have met before:
- People who know and can but are ‘not doing.’ This can be for a number of reasons, sometimes ‘don’t care’.
- People who ‘don’t know, can’t do’.
- Work that is hard to do properly to the required standard in the required time.
When developing any skill there are base elements that must be present. In golf two base elements are the grip and the stance.
In 1942 the War and Manpower Commission in the US identified three base skills for effective supervision that still stand today and are essential for any frontline leader charged with delivering standardised work. Under the banner of Training Within Industry they established a massive program to develop these skills in the manufacture of war materials.
The skill of TWI Job Relations focuses on the leader’s ability to develop relationships where they will be trusted, where they will get cooperation and where they will get honest feedback. The likelihood of ‘not doing’ will diminish. People will ‘want to do’. They achieve this through applying four foundational habits day in day out and, when people problems do arise, they follow a Plan-Do-Check-Act based pattern every time to handle such problems.
The skill of TWI Job Instruction is a training or instructing skill. It focuses on the leader’s ability to teach a person how to do the standard work. Job Instruction is a countermeasure skill when the frontline leader has a person who ‘doesn’t know, can’t do’. That leader has a duty to that person to make them capable thus that person can then deliver standardised work for their leader.
The skill of TWI Job Methods is an improvement skill. It focuses on the leader’s ability to make the best use of the resources now available to them. Job Methods is a countermeasure skill when the frontline leader needs to help their people find a better way to deliver the required quality in the required time, safely.
by Oscar Roche