Quality Work - 18 March 2008
Before a diamond becomes an elegant masterpiece, it is first a rough stone. It's not until the stone goes through a diamond-cutting process that it turns into a high-quality work of art.
There are three main stages to diamond-cutting, each of which can be used at work to transform a low-quality employee into one that's of the highest standard.
Planning: This first stage is when the diamond manufacturers analyse the rough stone's condition to determine how best to cut it. At work, we analyse the cause of an employee's poor quality by examining two factors: skill and attitude.
- High Skill, Low Attitude: Identify and provide the missing intrinsic motivators.
- High Skill, High Attitude: It's the work environment that's hindering performance.
- Low Skill, High Attitude: The employee simply needs more training or coaching.
- Low Skill, Low Attitude: It's time to let the staff member go.
Cleaving: The diamond stone is cut and rounded off into separate pieces. When employee quality is low, don't concentrate on improving quality in its entirety. Instead, identify just one or two areas to focus on for the next month so that your employees aren't overwhelmed. Don't just specify what needs to improve; give guidance on how they can improve.
Polishing: The finer characteristics of the diamond are created. At work, this is fine-tuning by customising the goals and strategies for each individual employee. If employees are in Position C and you'd like them to be in Position A, set targets and actions that will help them first get to Position B. The polishing part shouldn't occur until they're ready.
This reminds me of an old fable about a man who, while searching for diamonds, picked up a dirty old piece of rock. Thinking it was useless, he threw it back where he found it - only for someone else with more care, patience, and insight to come along, pick up the dirty old rock, and develop it into its valuable potential
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