“If they would only do what we expect of them…”

If I had a pound for every time I’d heard the phrase "If they would only do what we expect of them..", I’d be a millionaire.

And another one is “we need to ensure they are competent . . .”

Mostly the implication is that those who truly add value, operators and front line staff, are the only ones who need to do their jobs to a level of known competence. Sometimes the ‘accusation’ is also laid against first line supervisors. Seems to me that part of the competence gap may be in supervision at all levels. If a shop floor employee needs to do what is expected of them, who is expected to tell them what they need to do? Who is responsible for telling the supervisor that they need to tell their people what to do?

Also, where does competency assessment start? Just at the shop floor? If we begin to describe what everyone must do then their immediate supervisor should be assessing their competence. Who was assessing the competence of the senior bank staff before the financial crisis? Who was checking on the competence of the politicians too?

I have this picture of an organisation where everyone explicitly knows their role (and this will include the task of improving their role), everyone gets assessed and re-assessed and as a result the business just performs and grows. Is that naive? Or is it possible? Does it happen in your organisation?

What do you think?

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About the author

Dave Dyer

Dave Dyer is a principal consultant within the Operations Improvement team in ABB Consulting. His speciality is in bringing sustainable change and operational benefits to an organisation through the engagement of its people. He hopes to share good ideas and good practice, to inform and to learn.
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