Tag Archives: work instructions

Culture Trumps Clarity

“But, I set the context for my team. We talked about the work we would receive from the process step before. We talked about how we would inspect our work before we handed it off to the next process step. I thought I was very clear,” Rory complained.

“So, what happened?” I asked.

“It’s like the team wasn’t listening,” he replied. “I even had them repeat the steps back to me, to make sure I was understood.”

“So, what happened?” I repeated. “Why did you feel the need to be so explicit? Why the need for clarity?”

“We’ve had quality problems out of this team, seems like, forever. They don’t seem to care. They come to work, go through the motions. End of day, they head home. That’s why I was called in to manage this team.”

“So, what was different, after you explained the sequence, described the context for their work?” I probed.

“Nothing changed. We had the same incidence of quality re-works. Almost like shoddy work is part of the team culture.”

“So, what you are telling me is that culture trumps clear work instructions?”
Interesting perspective from Gustavo Grodnitzky in Culture Trumps Everything.

The Manager is Accountable

“Roger, the reason we are having this conversation is that I don’t believe your accountability on this project is clear. As the manager on the Phoenix project, you are accountable for the output of your team. You have been working with this project team for more than two years. You are accountable for who is on the team and off the team. You are accountable for monitoring the pace and quality of the team’s output. You are accountable for the work environment.” I stopped, so Roger could catch his breath.

“I know, I know I am accountable. But, if I have team members who are slow walking the job? I mean, I set the example. I am here early. I stay late. I’m engaged,” Roger defended.

“So, let’s say the pace is not meeting what the client expects, or what you expect, as the manager. What could be happening?” I asked.

Roger’s eyes flew to the ceiling, searching for answers in the back of his brain. His head began to nod.

  • “Could be an attitude problem.
  • Or, could be that the expectations are out of line.
  • Could be that the work instructions aren’t clear.
  • Maybe the training wasn’t effective.
  • Maybe we don’t have the right tools available.
  • Or, the way we have the work layout isn’t efficient.”

I could see a clearer understanding infecting Roger’s take on the problem.

“Roger, everything on your list could be valid. Which of those could you have influence on, as the manager of your team?”

Roger’s nod stopped, his eyes intent. “I can impact all of them.”

“So, I expect to see this list written. Then some analysis, which are you going to tackle first? What steps will you take, as the manager, to inspect the work instructions, check out the traininig, look at the work layout.

“This meeting is adjourned. Let’s meet tomorrow morning at ten, and you can tell me your intentions.”