If someone asked you whether your people do sloppy work, how would you know the correct answer? A question statisticians ask is, “Compared to what?” And that is the question you must ask.

If your company culture is inclined toward pushing the work out instead of doing it methodically, your standards probably are not very high. That’s because that type of culture results in work that you either have to accept or do over. And if you’re fixated on pushing the work out, you’re almost never going to do it over “just because it’s a little sloppy” — unless, of course, your dissatisfied customer insists on it.

At first blush, an electrician who quickly bangs out the work appears to be more productive than the one who performs work methodically. But if the methodology is based on written procedures, outstanding craftsmanship, intelligent workflow, and solid training, that second electrician is by far the more productive of the two.

The key is you can’t limit your analysis (and thus conclusions) to a small sample of work time. Spending an hour watching one guy race through the work while the other takes the time to do it right will only mislead you.

Instead, look at the bigger picture. See if you can pick which one of these electricians is going to produce the following results:

• Almost no time spent redoing anything to fix mistakes (cost savings).

• Nearly zero callback rate (cost savings).

• Very low risk of blowing anything up (cost savings).

• Customer looks at the finished work and is impressed; customer gives you more work (revenue enhancement).

• Competitor looks at the finished work and feels outclassed (bragging rights, and hey, aren’t those worth having too?).

• The personal pride shows, along with a much higher degree of employee satisfaction and dedication to the job.

• Your finished work advertises just how professional your company is.

So, are your people methodical enough? If not, what are you doing about it? Think of how you can change the tone by example, through training, and in your communication.

What specific actions can you take to ensure thatthe methodical approach is everyone’s approach? If you haven’t looked at your work procedures lately, start there.