Why does Santa check his list twice? If we consider the practice of checking the list twice, we could speculate that there is a drive towards excellence and a desire to deliver legendary service. The list needs to be accurate and thorough; the list allows him to honor his commitments efficiently, and list is what is used to make sure that nobody is disappointed; so, he checks it twice.
Mistakes happen! Sometimes things go wrong and it’s not even human error, it just happens. When something goes wrong and we apply root cause problem solving which unveils that if we had checked our work, we could have avoided the issue, perhaps, there is a simple solution. Can problems be reduced with a little checking? Yes!
As a casual observation, when work habits include self-checking and processes that account for double checking things, the result is fewer errors, mistakes, and problems. As an ability, we may call it conscientiousness. Considering that errors, mistakes, and problems can have a ripple of disastrous consequences in our restoration organizations; it is deserving of some attention.
Have you ever wondered how someone gave you a message with the wrong phone number? It is likely because the number was not read back to the person who gave it to them. This is an example of a very basic self-check that everyone should be trained to do in the organization. When someone gives an email and/or phone number, you always read it back to them to make sure you recorded the very important contact information perfectly. Being just one number off can make the difference between your ability to respond to a loss and/or honor the commitment to call a person back or not. It’s a big deal and can be proactively managed by the work habit to double check.
As I walked into work one morning, I complimented a coworker on the speed and quality he executed in the reconstruction of a bathroom that experienced a water loss. He thanked me and qualified his response by explaining that he needed to go back that morning. He explained that the tank of the toilet leaked, and it needed a few parts. He had removed and reset the toilet. Since I had been pondering about an individual’s work habits and the ability to self-check work, as well as the supporting processes in the organization, I began to question him.
“How did you know the toilet was not working properly?”
“I flushed it to make sure it was working after I re-installed it.”, he responded.
“Why did you do that?”
As he looked at me with some dismay at my line of questioning, I answered for him, “Because you always check your work!?”
As I pondered, in over five years, I could not recall a defect or workmanship issue regarding the work of this individual.
I don’t know if he was specifically taught these work practices, if it is innate to him, or if he learned from mistakes; but I do know that I thought, what if everyone did that?
- Equipment: Equipment would never be left behind. Even with the application of the software that tells you a piece of equipment is left on-site, if the person who installed it failed to scan it to the site, it can be left behind. A quick walk-through in the spirit of double-checking that all equipment is pulled can eliminate the call, “You left an air mover here.”
- Repairs: Some trades lend themselves to easy checks. Install a faucet? Check that it works properly and is not leaking by turning it on. Some trades require the detailed eye of a craftsman: is the drywall paint ready?
- Instructions/work orders: Verify and review that all instructions were followed. We know that bad things happen When People Don’t Follow Instructions in their entirety and properly.
How do we improve by “checking”?
The examples of problems that can be reduced by checking are endless as are the potential solutions. It applies to everything from field execution to office, administration, marketing, accounting, etc. Here is a brief list to get started on helping our organizations and teams to improve with a little checking:
- Organizational processes can support and contribute to checking in the spirit of reducing errors. A simple example is a co-worker double checking, inspecting (and signing off as “inspected”) contents before they get packaged for storage and/or returned to the customer.
- Reconciliation is a concept that is often associated with accounting functions. A bank reconciliation is a check and balance that everything that is recorded in the accounting system is in perfect alignment with the bank system. Any discrepancy is identified and corrected. Reconciliation as a process can be applied to many areas within your company. As a simple example:
10 water losses to be monitored
10 monitorings are scheduled
10 readings/maps get submitted at day end
0 Steps were missed
- Culture and Training always have a global impact in our operations and outcomes. We can incorporate checks (self-regulation) into the training of skills and tasks within the organization. Culturally, we should celebrate and hold people accountable to their level of conscientiousness in the performance of their work and be prepared to coach and develop them on improvements.
A little time in double-checking can have exponential value in time wasted and service-related issues.
Happy Restoring Success!