How to be a Consistent Leader

How to be a Consistent Leader

As a facility or property manager, do you ever hold annual quarterly meetings on a semi-annual basis?   The annual quarterly meeting on a semi-annual basis is a running joke amongst my team. I’m the first to laugh at it since I labeled it. The meeting name describes perfectly the inconsistency of this meeting, which was originally a quarterly meeting.

The only refuge I can find in such inconsistency is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, “… consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”  Yet, as a lean sigma janitorial  executive champion, Emerson’s cover fire doesn’t protect me from my dereliction for long—for the lean sigma leader’s work is to eliminate inconsistency (called variation in the Lean Sigma world).

It’s hard to think of a situation where inconsistency is good. Would you like your surgeon to be inconsistent?  How about the pilot landing your plane?  Inconsistency erodes trust and confidence from team members and customers. If you are hit and miss on meeting a customer’s specifications, you’ve essentially lowered both quality and trust.  Inconsistency also adds cost by slowing production, and It can lead to accidents hurting people. Excellent facility managers will eliminate inconsistency in how a facility service is delivered.


Introduce Standard Work to Create Consistency

For those new to Lean Sigma, Standard Work is the first step to eliminate inconsistency, and to solve problems. Standard Work consists of the following  two components.

  1. The value-added tasks associated with a position.
  2. A time associated with completing value-added tasks.

By tracking task and time through Standard Work, both variation and the eight wastes of lean are exposed.

As you can tell from my “Annual Quarterly Meeting on a Semi-Annual basis”, leaders need standard work as well.  Identifying the most essential leadership tasks and assigning a time to them helps managers provide consistent leadership that drives toward consistent results.

Leadership-Work-FormTo help me with my leadership standard work, I developed a single-page Standard Work Sheet (click here to download functional Excel spreadsheet). This sheet takes my most important leadership tasks and divides them into weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks.  You too may find this beneficial for managing your facility. Here are four tips for creating your leadership standard work:

  1. Task: Select task that will have the greatest leverage over your work processes. Here you want tasks that are key control points. These tasks should be proactive and help keep you from the firefighting mode. Avoid routine tasks. If they are routine, they are already standardized. For example, you don’t need a check sheet for checking email…its already routine. Your purpose for leadership standard work is to build a consistent practice that adds value to customers.
  2. Success Contribution:  Describe how this task contributes to success as defined by your customers (internal or external). By doing this you will most likely select “value-added” over “non-value added” tasks. For example in Lean Sigma Janitorial our customers require quarterly reporting of our metrics.  A task of reviewing the metrics monthly to assure the data is coming in from the field is critical to being able to provide accurate and positive reports for the quarterly review.
  3. Frequency (time): Assign a frequency for which the task occurs. Making it time-bound and regular will help you establish patterns of consistency in your management and leadership.
  4. Accountability Agent: You can keep track of this sheet and its completion on your own, but it is more effective to assign the task or the entire sheet to someone to whom you can be accountable. It doesn’t have to be your boss. For example, an admin can retrieve and track your compliance to the sheet each week.

Your Standard Work Sheet should be dynamic. It should change based on business conditions, new initiatives or when key work processes are failing. Continuous improvement is the ultimate goal of lean sigma.  Janitorial services may be your focus one month and space utilization the next. Keep your sheet active and relevant and it will serve as a tool to help you drive consistency in your leadership.

Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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