IN TOUCH / MEET THE EXPERTS / HELEN JOHNSON
The power of checklists
A communication tactic for every industry
With extra demands on staff due to the current climate and routines changing frequently to accommodate new guidelines, it is easy for jobs to get overlooked or forgotten. When a team isn’t working productively together, it can cause unnecessary stress and worry for its members. What can you do to make a cohesive working environment? Can you implement a checklist? Often this simple concept is overlooked but it can make such a difference to work and personal life, boosting productivity, keeping employees focused and in turn making everyone happy and boosting morale.
Author and surgeon Atul Gawande wrote a book (The Checklist Manifesto) in using this method and says how using it to break down complex , high pressure tasks, whether following a recipe or investing millions of dollars in a company, can radically improve everything, from airline safety to heart surgery survival rates and can transform how we operate in any field.
Dr Gawande conducted a project with the World Health Organisation to see how a checklist could work during medical surgery and if it could help with lowering infection rates. Although the checklist was relatively simple, it included washing techniques, that if missed could cause infection risks to the patient. Once it was implemented there was a reduction in infection rates within the hospitals using it. Further proving how effective a checklist can be.
So what is the best way to use this basic tool?
Keep It Short
Don’t over complicate the list and keep it to a maximum of 7-9 points. Any longer and it may become overwhelming and lose its focus. Keeping the list short will also keep it relevant to what you are doing, for example if cleaning the till area on the shop floor in line with new Covid 19 regulations, you can be sure to have covered all bases and not missed anything.
Keep It Simple
It doesn’t need to be fancy. Do not lose focus with colours, fonts, decorations etc and keep it uncluttered. Which leads to…
Use Your Preferred Method
Pen and paper vs notes on your phone, or using your works intranet system? Use whichever works for you and what you will continue to use. If you have a role where you are not allowed to use your phone, for example on the shop floor or in the kitchen of a restaurant, then it makes sense that you would use a notepad instead of your personal phone.
It may seem obvious, but make sure you list your tasks in order of priority. Tick off the most important tasks first and make sure the most urgent points are at the top. That way if you need to add to your list during the day, your biggest priorities do not get lost amongst the newer tasks.
Whilst your team may not be performing heart surgery, using a checklist can be a brilliant tool for both work and home, in all fields. Keeping everyone focused, ensuring all bases are covered and meaning less stress is a win-win situation! You may even find that you will have more free time-bonus!