Implementing checklists in the workplace
The difficulty in implementing checklists in the workplace is not so much about changing the way people work (it shouldn’t be that different, just a little more refined and disciplined) but changing the way people think about the way they work. The checklist is as much a mentality as it is a product; as much a working style as it is a tool.
Changing people’s mindsets is harder than purchasing a product; checklists alone cannot make people follow them. You, as partners, CEOs or managers, can. Follow the steps below to make your checklist adventures a little simpler:
1. Everyone from the top down should follow it. If the lower-ranked staff see the senior staff open-minded and diligent in incorporating checklists into their work, the concept of following a checklist won’t appear downgrading and elementary, as it so often does. It’s simply best practice.
2. Provide them with examples and stories on the necessity of checklists. If need be, return to Part 1 of this blog series for instances where checklists have saved lives and revealed holes in even the most sophisticated and well-trained minds.
3. Remind them that the checklists are not there to control them, but to catch details that overly practised minds inevitably forget. Recognising the fallibility of the human memory is not humiliating, it’s just a necessary (and honest) requirement for improving your work. The checklists will not take away from the humanity they inject into their work: they are still in control of the work they do, but they can be assured of the highest quality by referring to a checklist that ensure all the basic requirements of the job have been met. As Gawande reminds us, “there must always be room for judgment, but judgment aided – and even enhanced – by procedure.”
4. Explain to them the value of having a firm run by checklists. Perhaps discussing the increased saleability of your firm as a result of checklists is not the best thing to point out to your staff, but explaining its importance for the growth and expansion of your firm can significantly motivate your employees. Show them the effect standardisation will have on the consistency and quality of your firm’s services, and they’ll be more open-minded to your plans.
5. Instill ‘checklist faith’ in your employees. Explain that the checklists should be the first place they turn when unsure of a process (senior staff come after checklists). Train them to trust the checklists they use and have faith in the best practice standards of the checklists. If they do have an issue with them, remind them of the regular meetings your firm will be holding to discuss and review exactly this.
Purchasing or creating checklists is only the first step of your firm’s checklist revolution. As creators of professional checklists for over 10,000 users, believe us when we say that once checklists become the norm for your firm, you’ll never look back.
Enjoy the revolution.