On the surface, this may not seem like a standardization-related question, but being the best that you can be at work – every day – does not happen unless your staff knows what’s expected of them (Question #1) and they have the materials and equipment to do their job right (Question #2). Remember, these questions stack on one another, with each question standing on the foundation of the previous one. Now, let’s look at Question #3.
The relevant piece here, as it relates to standardization, is that you absolutely MUST have standard processes in place so that your staff have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. Stated another way, if you don’t have or don’t consistently follow standard processes, you deprive your staff of the space they need to be able to do their best.
I have worked in and as a consultant to airlines for the last 30 years. I have seen many amazing individuals leave their employer because of this question. Yes, the airline has procedures and, yes, they document them, but staff get pulled in multiple directions completely outside of their job descriptions and in ways that prevent them from showing up as their best. So, frustrated, they leave in search of an employer that will give them the structure and consistency to allow them to do the work of being their best and feeling great about it every day.
Quick side observation: because of the seniority system for pilots in the United States, once hired at their first big airline, pilots do not typically switch to another one because, each time they do, they have to start over again at the bottom – regardless of their experience level. This creates company and management resentment on both sides. From the perspective of most airline management, the pilots are overpaid prima donnas who should just do what they’re told. From the perspective of most pilots, management are clueless because they are not out on the line experiencing and addressing the issues that pilots do every day. In this case, the lack of trust between these groups makes it difficult to do your best each day and feel good about it.
The same is true in other industries. Trust must be established between you and your staff, and there needs to be precisely developed and executed protocols that all of your people can use when they don’t feel like they are able to do their best.
For a good example of how lack of trust can sabotage this question, look no further than employee reviews. Some companies don’t even have them! Strike one. For those that do, many managers treat approaching reviews like a chore rather than an opportunity to celebrate employee wins and make thoughtful adjustments for the next quarter. Strike two. Your employees sense this. They know it. They know when you come to them at the last minute and ask if they have time to “squeeze in” a review this afternoon. Then, inside of the review, many of the reviewers aren’t fully prepared. Strike three. Here again, your staff know that you aren’t doing your best, so why should they do theirs? And, why should they want to work in a place where you ask for their best, but don’t bring yours? It’s unacceptable, really, and it’s costing you more than you can possibly imagine. Yes, this is a question of standardization. Get this one right.