Standardize & Empower
Good Jobs Strategy companies standardize routine processes and empower frontline employees to improve those processes and to make decisions for their customers. Employee involvement in the standardization process increases buy-in and conformance to standards. Standardization also gives employees clear expectations for their performance and enables them to focus more on the tougher choices that really do require human judgement.
Empowering employees to solve customer problems without approval from a manager and taking their ideas for improvement seriously lets them respond to customer needs and help the company cut costs. Standardization with empowerment further increases employee motivation by showing respect for their time and their judgement.
Assess Your Company
Our Good Jobs Diagnostic has 16 questions to assess how well your company embraces Standardize & Empower, including:
1. Are routine processes standardized in terms of content, sequence, duration, and outcomes?
2. Do unit managers and frontline employees have the information they need to do their jobs well (e.g. goals, new strategies, products, promotions, policies/processes)?
3. Do different departments cooperate to solve problems?
4. Can company leaders can name 2-3 favorite frontline ideas that have been implemented in the last year?
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Standardize & Empower Works with Other Good Jobs Strategy Choices
Focus & Simplify enables employees to be knowledgeable about products and services, which helps them to make better decisions for customers and to provide input for merchandising. Cross-Train enables employees to use their judgment to move between tasks to best serve the customer. When employees have the time, because of Operating with Slack,they can devote energy to understanding and solving customer needs and identifying and solving problems. Invest in People ensures that empowerment is done with control. Hiring the right people, setting high performance expectations, monitoring, and teaching ensure that empowered employees make the right decisions for customers and the company.
Case Study: Toyota
Toyota is renowned for combining standardization with empowerment. Processes are highly standardized: employees know how long a process should take and what performance target they need to meet. This does not mean everything always goes smoothly. When problems arise, frontline employees are empowered to stop the production line (pulling what they call an andon cord) and to take time to solve the problem. They have been trained to take a structured problem-solving approach in order to identify root causes and develop an action plan.
As Toyota’s global vision states, “We will meet challenging goals by engaging the talent and passions of people who believe there is always a better way.”
- Lean Enterprise Institute