Ok, so yes, this an old saying that has been heard thousands of times. However, it is astonishing how few people really follow the wisdom. There is a reason that old clichés stick around for so long. They are very true!
Over the years I have seen many examples of companies that have built a great process around the execution of the tasks within their businesses. At the same time, I have seen them fall by the way side and close their doors. Most of the time, it comes down to simply not inspecting the team to ensure that the processes are being followed.
Recently, I had a similar situation I was dealing with that really drives this point home. I was talking with Bob and he was explaining to me how he continues to have issues in the field with his team. He had over a dozen “at fault” accidents, in company vehicles that were costing him a fortune since his company is self-insured up to 100K.
Bob was befuddled because he spent so much time training his team on how to be safe drivers. He had all driving team members take a defensive driving course, he prepared his own safe driving course, and had monthly meetings where he reiterated the teachings and importance of safe driving. Despite his continued focus, the accidents kept piling up. None were major accidents, just minor rear end bumps, but enough to cause damage to both vehicles.
Bob knew the problem was that his team members were distracted, more than likely by smart phones and tablets. But he had made it clear that they should pull over and stop before looking at any emails or answering their phones, regardless of whether or not they had Bluetooth. However, it was obvious his instructions were not being followed.
I asked Bob if his team had a record of not following directions. To which he replied,” No!” So we started going through his records. It was amazing all the process that Bob had built for his team. He had very structured protocol for how each team member was to fill out paper work, safety documentation, invoicing, even how they interacted with the customer. It was as if I had built the structure myself. However, once we started reviewing the documentation, it became apparent that none of the process he spent so much time building was being followed by the overwhelming majority of his team members. So I asked Bob what protocols he had in place to review and inspect that his processes were being followed. He looked at me with a dazed look on his face. I asked him if he ever does QC checks on the jobsites to ensure the required processes he had in place were being followed. Again, nothing!
Bob just lowered his head and said, “I am an idiot! I have been so focused on building the right processes to create an excellent, repeatable, experience for my customers; I forgot the most important element, to inspect what I am expecting from my team!” I explained to Bob that without the inspection process, the team doesn’t realize how important this is to you. While yes, you spend the time and money to constantly remind them in meetings how important it is, if you are not checking to ensure the processes are being followed, it sends a different message to the team.
Now Bob has instituted a QC process to ensure not only the quality of the work and the customer experience, but also for the documentation side which tells him his processes are being followed. Additionally, with the installation of a GPS tracking system, even the driving element is now monitored. These changes have made a huge difference in the effectiveness of his team, as well as shown improvement to the bottom line. The fact is that when inspecting what you expect from your team, you are sending a clear and concise message that nothing less will be tolerated. ‘Buy in’ is a must!
While everyone wants to have the company that provides a level of excellence that blows the customer away, without a solid QC and inspection process, failure is the only thing you can truly expect.
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