Getting the whole team on board with standards

How to set clear work standards with your team.

You might be the owner of your company, the contract manager, or the supervisor overseeing work in the field, but we hear time and again that a major challenge is ensuring the team member doing the work is able to do it to the standard agreed with clients.

Therein lies the challenge, what exactly was agreed and how do you clearly pass that onto your team (or remind the client)?

Let’s look at some leading ideas to bring the team on the journey, and make sure you are communicating clearly what is expected.

Defining work standards clearly

Despite the efforts of lengthy contracts and deep explanations with clients and team members, the definition of what “clean” means can vary considerably.

In this variability lies a lot of room for confusion and disappointment. Disappointment for the client, the manager, and the team who are all trying to do what is expected of them and feel successful.

Perhaps the challenge lies in the very definition of the work needed to make a space clean, and this must be made clearer across four levels of activity.

  1. With the customer in the original contract
  2. With the team working on that specific contract
  3. With the team for general activities as per company standards
  4. Among management to ensure consistency.

The work must be clearly defined for the depth and degree of cleaning, the equipment and materials used, and the time required to complete the tasks.

With your shared language on more accurately describing work to be done it is time to revisit the description of work being used.

We have found it is most important to update proposal templates, so that future work can be adjusted, and you start setting clear expectations from now on.

Then come back and revisit any ‘problem’ accounts where expectations might be more accurately reset.

Team engagement leads to ownership of work

Action research is a growing movement in engaging the team in creating SOPs through a two-way interaction with the team doing the work.

Instead of templates from the ivory tower of management the team can shape the work to help meet the client expectations on quality and management guidance on time spent.

In the action research approach, you collaborate with the team (or the client) on identified problems, develop a solution based on your diagnosis together, and then put that into action and measure the impact.

Because the team helped to build the SOPs they feel ownership over them. This leads to compliance and adjusting behaviours on the ground by the team doing the work to remain compliant.

As trust builds the effect of this change also builds, ideally resulting in more self-managed work teams.

I know it sounds unbelievable, but it is working and is well worth your time to do some further reading and we will be sharing more as it comes to light.

A system to deliver continuous improvement

We need to go beyond auditing tools to embed these best practice behaviours. Having a system to record, deliver and report on who is using the SOPs correctly is critical.

The worker in the field needs to be able to lookup the SOP for any activity and ensure they are adhering to the expectations set in the contract with the client.

Training in the moment is the holy grail, allowing your team to embed good habits and check quickly if they have the right technique, safety approach, or even equipment on hand for the work asked of them. Being able to access short, sharp tips or videos can be gold for supervisors and reduce a LOT of the back-and-forth chatter.

All tasks in freshOps allow a user to refer to training materials via a PDF or access a video showing them how to prepare and complete the work safely.

In this way, the messages from induction, onboarding at a site, and training are consistent and they tie back to the expectations of the contract ensuring you get on track and stay there.

At freshOps, we believe that everyone gets up to do a good day’s work and the onus is on business leaders to make it crystal clear what success looks like and provide the tools to lead and manage the team to help them get there.

Martin Callan is the CEO of He can be reached at

This article first appeared in INCLEAN magazine 

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