[September 17, 2014] It is undoubtedly human nature to be comfortable. Wherever we go and in whatever we are doing, we eventually strive to make ourselves more comfortable. This makes sense and is a good thing but can also be a bad for us in the work world. Good that we are always making our position better or “improving our foxhole” … as our Army veterans tell us. Bad because it can make us complacent and turn us into procrastinators. That is why leaders possess tools to help. Inspections are one leadership tool that can help us break out of complacency and a procrastinating mentality.
Regardless of our level within an organization, leaders should take advantage of this tool. It helps motivate both the employee and the leader. While the motivation factor may be different for each person, it nevertheless helps drive us in the right direction. That is why inspections should be tailored to do just that … motivate to improve performance. Inspections do have additional benefits; such as giving us information about where the organization is relative to some given standard. Yet, even this information can be used to enhance our motivation if used correctly.
This is why inspections, regardless of the type and timing, must be seen by the leader as a motivating tool more than anything else. In the military we once had “black hat” and “white hat” inspectors conduct inspections. The black hats would try to trick us and were not helpful; their job was to make us look bad. The white hats would give us hints on how to do better and allow us to correct deficiencies before they went into any official reports. Both these types of inspectors provided motivation, just a different type. The military has largely done away with the black hat type inspections.
As leaders we must use the tools available. Inspections are a great leadership tool that has value and can be used as a positive motivator. When used otherwise there are risks to the worker and to the mission. Then the question is whether those risks outweigh the gains made. When we are measured against an agreed-upon standard and measured through proper inspections, we can expect nothing less than success.
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