Less-than-satisfactory work will not fix itself. Here are some pro-active steps you can take.
What do you think of when someone says work is sloppy?
For me sloppy work includes incomplete work, mistakes, poor quality, late delivery and ineffective or unsafe short cuts. This can lead to extra workload for others, poor role models for new team members, customer complaints, increased cost and delays. Managers need to ensure their people deliver high quality work at all times.
Here are some strategies and techniques to prevent sloppy work and improve standards:
Set standards and policies for the company and team
Companies need standards and policies that are clearly spelled out – for managers and all staff. Don’t wait for company leaders and managers to outline these kinds of standards. Any manager or team leader can implement standards for their team – and once in place these standards set the benchmark and can move upwards or downwards or sideways through other parts of the company. What’s important is that the standards are understood by all.
Agree on objectives, standards and expectations for individuals
Company objectives and standards need to be translated to teams, and this means managers need to be clear in their expectations – not vague. When meeting to discuss standards, ask staff to make notes and use email to confirm the understanding.
This may include dates for completion of tasks or milestones, agreement on processes, agreement on delivery format etc. Managers must take responsibility for providing clear instructions and ensuring they are understood, and they must review and be clear about priorities, on an ongoing basis especially when there are changes happening.
Train and coach staff and develop their skills
Work out what the training needs are for each member of the team and ensure everyone is appropriately skilled to complete their work to the required standards. Offer coaching or training to bring those people up to the standard that have a skill gap or development need.
There are many ways to provide training on and off the job – it will help to find out the ways the person likes to learn first. People who are sloppy by nature can be trained.
Monitor progress and encourage feedback
Feedback should be specific – whether positive or constructive – so make sure you give examples. Explain why there is a problem if there is one and what are the consequences of the poor performance, mistake or less than standard work.
Don’t delay giving the feedback and make sure you get agreement to any changes required. If the issue keeps arising again and again put the performance issues in writing and give warnings before deciding the person should leave.
Manage mistakes effectively
Mistakes are a great way to learn – and can be used as just-in-time learning for a whole area, especially when the blame factor is put aside. So try and create a no-blame culture – one that encourages learning and continuous improvement. Try having regular meetings where mistakes are anaylsed for process improvement. This will encourage open honest communication within teams.
Recognise and reward good performance
Positive feedback and encouragement boosts morale and contributes to creating a culture of excellence. You need to give day-to-day recognition and build these into work practices and communication. Recognition should be both informal and formal – so try out some award and recognition schemes and celebrations. The best practice companies do this well!
Eve Ash is a psychologist and co-presenter with psychologist Peter Quarry of their latest new title 6 Ways to Prevent Sloppy Work (from the best selling Take Away Training Series, © TraiingPoint.Net), www.7dimensions.com.au
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