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It All Hinges On Standardization

Standardization in the workplace is one of the most - if not the most - critical elements to get right.

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Close-up image of handyman assembling kitchen cabinet and screwing door hinge
Close-up image of handyman assembling kitchen cabinet and screwing door hinge

Every day and everywhere we look, we encounter standards. All standards carry consequences for not adhering to them. Consequences range from severe sanctions to the mild disdain of those around us. Almost everything we do touches a standard in some way – at home, in the world, at work, with friends, with family. Our individual views of the world dictate how we “see” things around us. These views, unique to each of us, color everything we say and do. We instantly evaluate what happens around us based on our own personal standards. Since we all differ from one another, no two of us have precisely the same standards. This works in our personal lives, but when we gather together on a project or in a work environment, differing standards (or the understanding of those standards) quickly leads to chaos.

In the workplace, standards (and the standardization of those standards) allow companies to operate safely, efficiently, and profitably. In some industries, employees working in a non-standard way can have dire consequences, including death. In the United States construction industry alone, 81 people die each month. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics frequently lists “lack of understanding of job description” as a contributing factor in these deaths. In all industries, a lack of understanding and standardization amongst staff quickly leads to inefficiencies, cost overruns, poor customer service, and low employee morale. Tolerance in any of these areas for too long ultimately results in declining customer satisfaction, lower profits, and possibly the shuttering of the business. A company’s attention to standards and their level of standardization impacts its success more than anything else. 

Taken by over 35 million employees worldwide, Gallup’s “Q12 Assessment” ranks #1 at measuring employee engagement (www.gallup.com). Their assessment consists of 12 question survey that determines individual employee engagement. Question #1 is the most important one for a company to get right, followed by Question #2, and so on. In other words, doing really well on Question #6 is irrelevant if your company has not already mastered Questions #1-5. The first four questions in the survey? You guessed it. All related to standards and standardization. In other words, if your company doesn’t have standards AND a standardized way to ensure that those standards digest the same way for all staff, don’t expect to have great employee engagement. And, when you don’t have great employee engagement, your organization doesn’t have the highest safety, efficiency, employee morale, customer satisfaction, and therefor profit, possible. Everything hinges on getting this right.

I know what you’re thinking: “My company has standards; we have processes for doing the things we do.” Of course you do. Every company has processes. Good companies take the time to clearly document their processes for their staff to digest. Great companies go a step farther and standardize every part of their processes (from nomenclature to grammar to consistent usage of fonts and layouts) before providing it to their staff in a standard way. Exceptional companies go all the way, standardizing everything and providing the content in a way that their staff are eager to read, understand, and implement it. 

That’s the focus of this blog – getting your company content standardized to the point that your staff eagerly await process changes and joyfully implement them consistently alongside their colleagues. How humans receive and engage with content has been forever changed in the last 5-10 years. In a world where notices are sent in real-time to your iPhone telling you that your Amazon order is just three stops away, sending content and updates to your staff in a non-engaging way will not inspire them to do their best – which means your company can’t do its best. You have the processes. Some of you need to clean them up. Some of you have clean processes already, and need to better engage your staff. This small adjustment pays dividends.

written by Wally Hines

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