Hi! I am Mark, and I am a firm believer in standard work.

So many times I hear others say that their work is just too unexpected and random to have anything standard about it. They are convinced that they should not be limited by standardization. The work of a safety person is variable and standard work can be derailed with just one report. And yes, I was one of those people. I found that standard work was fantastic for environmental programs as they were very regimented with paperwork and inspections, but it usually came in the form of a compliance calendar. It was only later that my mind was opened to what standard work could really be.

I was working for a site that was implementing a standardized system that was part of an overarching corporate system. The mentor that was assigned to our site completely sold me on the benefits of standard work. Instead of poo-pooing the suggestions, I embraced the idea that certain things had to be done on a regular frequency. I found that when I thought about the daily and weekly items that I needed to accomplish there could be a cadence that could work.

A little bit of background about me as a person. I am not someone that embraces chaos. I like things to be orderly. I like things to be simple and easy. It makes me happy to find new ways to make my work and life easier. Even early in my career, I believed in the idea that I needed to plan and do all the things I could predict because it was inevitable that there would be something that would come up that was unexpected. I like having a plan and sticking to that plan. There is something satisfying about making a list and then checking things off that list.

Some of the basic ideas that I first embraced as part of standard work were keeping my email inbox at 0 unread messages that were greater than 24 hours old, tracking how many meetings I was able to attend that were scheduled in advance, assuring that I was able to tour various departments each week and to make one-on-one time for each of my team members. The last one is critical to being a good leader/mentor.

When it comes to being a mentor or a leader of people, we have to make sure that we not only allocate time for them but make time for them. This means that if for some reason they are late or not at the meeting, we go find them. We make it a point to show that this time is important to both our development. I have found time and time again that I have grown and learned from helping those that I am mentoring achieve their goals. I may not fully understand their goal or the path they want to take in their career or the organization. When that happens, it means I have to start asking and digging for the information they need.

Making time to be a mentor cannot be just a focus on the person when they are present. There is preparing for a meeting, conducting the meeting, and then following up with any needs from the meeting. It is a significant and necessary investment in the lift of a mentor. As leaders, the most valuable resource we have to offer is our time. It is crucial that we use it wisely and that we are taking the time to show we are making the investment.