When I do an audit for client I often find that paperwork is missing, documentation is incomplete, tasks are half done and training has fallen by the wayside. It is generally not purposeful, but more is the result of not having an effective manner to accomplish or track the things that need to be done. Here is one tool to make your processes more effective. You will get things completed and subsequently reduce your liability.
We have all probably heard that checklists are important, but we probably don’t do them. I often find a checklist in files of employees that show the effort of trying to insure that paperwork is done as a new employee is hired. Then as I continue with the audit that checklist starts to show up only partially done or not done at all other than the blank form is sitting in the file. Then the form doesn’t even show up anymore. Along with the disappearance of the checklist is an increase in the number of other pieces of paperwork that are missing.
Eric Barker, who writes the blog Barking up the Wrong Tree, reported on a study that showed the value of checklists. In this case it saved lives. In the intensive care unit of a hospital they instituted the use of a checklist. By monitoring its use they discovered that “…in this one hospital, the checklist had prevented forty-three infections and eight deaths, and saved two million dollars in costs.” Pretty amazing results. This generally in HR are not going to be that dramatic. But reduced errors, completed paperwork, completed training, can save a company time, money and headaches.
Barker was writing about the work of Atul Gawande, who wrote the book The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Gawande’s premise is that today our lives and our work has gotten so complicated that “..the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely.” His contention is that creating a checklist and adhering to the list will introduce the needed consistency and simplicity that will help us avoid errors, errors that cost time, money and in his example, lives. I know from my experience the files I look at would benefit greatly from the use of a checklist.
One of the things that was hinted at was that a checklist was more effective if it was created by the user, regardless of what level the user was at. Surgeons were not likely to follow a checklist someone had imposed on them, but they did follow ones they created that showed the protocols they knew they needed to follow.
So create your own list. Don’t go looking for one on the Internet. Your processes are particular to you and your company. Create something that is relevant to you and your situation. And then use it in a consistent and disciplined manner. Don’t get lazy.