Why consider this?
Some say that the more you do for your employees the less they think for themselves.
Whilst this may be true, in some situations, when it comes to performing under pressure, this is far from the case.
Checklists improving performance
There is a reason why pilots use checklists in an emergency situation.
This is because checklists improve their decisions, reduce risk and potential for disaster.
People are more reactive than thinkers, our natural tendency is to react, rather than think.
Consider driving a car for example – how do you do it?
- Are you thinking about (exactly) what you are doing when driving?
- Have you every gone through a set of traffic lights and asked yourself were they on red?
- Have you ever arrived and thought, how did I get here?
If you had to think about exactly what you are doing you would find it too difficult – this is because driving is a very complex task.
Your brain is processing data (speed, distance, co-ordinates…) seemingly at the speed of light.
It’s the practice and repetition that you do that means your brain has the necessary methods or patterns and skills to do this. Forming part of your own unique guidance system that enables your mind to perform well. Your guidance system has the potential to operate independently of your thinking system and reactive survival (fight, freeze, flight) system, considering how you drive and do other functions demonstrates this amazing ability and potential that you and others have.
When it comes to dealing with the unknown as well as perceived threats and opportunities, challenging people and situations it is normally the survival system that reacts first. Sometimes in helpful and unhelpful ways, as you will observe when people are stressed, distracted or excited.
Considering performance at work
- People make decisions all day long without the need to think about them.
- Then when a threat, challenge or opportunity comes along they react.
- How well they react is the question that’s worth considering.
When employees have (and use) checklists, they will make better decisions.
Having a checklist gives the mind a set of guidelines to follow, which can free up processing capabilities for creative thinking. Which can be very helpful in changing a can’t-do into a can-do situation.
Customer service is a really good example. Good people can deliver bad service because they lack the guidelines they need. Think about some of your conversations with your suppliers and service providers and you will see what we mean.
This applies just as much to any profession, for managers, salespeople, negotiators, technicians, teachers, doctors…
Smart people use checklists because they reduce the strain on their brain and free up capacity to operate at a higher level and the ability take on new or more challenges.
Ego is the enemy, which is why some people believe they don’t need a checklist. The airline industry has learnt and used this to change the way that they operate, through improving their systems and processes.
All industries can learn and gain significant improvements to performance from this approach.