By James Hernandez, HHS Vice President, Management Development
Moving throughout the regular day-to-day of our jobs, we come across countless opportunities to correct deficiencies, but when there are other pressing items those issues might be placed on the backburner. When this occurs, tacit approval is expressed, and a majority of the time leaders don’t even realize that this has happened. Tacit approval is when a manager fails to speak out regarding existing conditions, and employees assume that the status quo is acceptable and is allowed to be continued. Ultimately, this gives employees a false perception of expectations. Implementing a strategy to avoid tacit approval is helpful for organizations to not only meet quality goals, but also to maintain them.
Root the message with the leadership
Embedding this message starts with the leadership team. In order for the organization to be the best, complacency must be removed from the company’s DNA. Leaders must determine the standards that need to be upheld and then set the right example, even when no one is around. If a leader is heading home after a long day of work and passes a gum wrapper on the floor, their first thought may be to just leave it behind and let someone else get it, but a leader who encompasses the values of the organization will take the initiative to pick it up and throw it into the trash. Practicing the values of the organization will set a precedent for others.
Address the issues right away in an encouraging manner
Leaders juggle multiple projects at a time, and have a wide variety of responsibilities to manage. This occasionally can cause small details to be overlooked and in favor of focusing on more pressing matters, but culture cannot be maintained if things are not addressed in a timely manner. An easy way to make sure that issues do not fall under tacit approval is to take a moment to communicate what is seen with the employee. For example, during a manager’s rounds they notice the housekeeping cart is untidy. They should address that discrepancy with the employee right then by saying, “I know you have been working hard today, and I appreciate it. Do you think you could get your cart detailed tomorrow?” This creates an expectation and holds the team member accountable to those standards.
Hardwire these initiatives into the culture from the beginning
Instilling company values and initiatives must begin during the recruiting process. During interviews and ongoing communication with potential employees, leaders must effectively communicate the expectations of the organization. The focus should be hiring the best and expecting the best. These initiatives must also be a big part of the onboarding process, beginning at orientation and then regularly repeated in trainings, day-to-day interactions, and in meetings.
Quality starts with the leaders and their drive not to accept the status quo. Setting the tone with employees from the very beginning and continually communicating its importance builds out expectations into the DNA of the organization. Being aware of the minor details and addressing them immediately will contribute to the company’s ability to uphold and maintain their quality standards and goals.