How To Do An Executive Inspection And Why It's Going To Be Your New Favorite Tool For Managing Employees

From the Desk of Sarah Nadler Troutdale, Oregon

Hey there!

Sarah here.

I work with business owners & entrepreneurs every month to grow, strengthen and smooth operations within their business.

I've helped dozens of entrepreneurs in different industries build a productive, self-starting team that allows them to focus on other areas...such as family, personal hobbies & community leadership.

This week on The Be Movement Show, I'm sharing one of my favorite tools for building and managing a great team.

Life Coach Sarah Nadler Shares Her Favorite Tool For Building & Managing A Self-Starter Team

For those who are new to the blog, Sarah Nadler is a Life Coach & inspirational speaker with twelve years of experience helping clients reach relationship, career and Big Hairy Audacious life goals. Her work has been featured on Fox News, ABC, NY Weekly, and her latest book Walking Past Expectations was rated #6 on Lifney's list of Best Books to Read On The Beach This Summer 2019.

Welcome back to our show!

In this episode, we’re discussing the supervision of employees or team members - and how an executive inspection can help your business run more smoothly. 

Before we dive into how to do one or why they’re great, let’s identify what an executive inspection ISN'T. 

Inspecting the different areas or staff of your business ISN'T about catching them out and punishing them.

It ISN'T about puffing yourself up or making someone look good.

The whole purpose of the inspection is to:

  • Give the executive vital knowledge on what’s really going on inside the business at this very moment
  • Give the team a chance to have their voice heard, gain insight into what management wants or considers of value, and provide them with the knowledge that management truly cares what’s going on

The fact that you might also catch someone doing something wrong is almost beside the point. 

In fact, I can tell you from personal experience that an executive who goes looking constantly for wrongdoing often causes more of it to go on. 

You have to be able to see and expect goodness to find any!

So let us begin.

The first thing an executive ought to do before embarking on an inspection is to understand the purpose of each area of the business. 

If you’re not familiar with what an area is supposed to look like, how it should look when running perfectly, and what it’s supposed to produce, you can make a LOT of mistakes in its leadership.

I remember going around on an inspection one time with the owner of a healthcare practice. 

He was a fantastic doctor - highly trained. But he wasn’t an MBA or trained executive. And so things that didn’t really matter much stood out like a sore thumb to him, while in the same breath he ignored the important mistakes his team were making.

If your receptionists are being very chatty with each other - sharing gossip and laughing...but they’re ALSO getting their work done, there’s no point in reprimanding them.

It will only lower their morale and prevent teamwork. After all, do you really want a company culture of silent gloom??

But conversely, when serious activities are being neglected because the staff remember responsible doesn’t like them - that is the sort of thing an executive inspection should catch. 

Here are a few other rules to follow:

  • Issue no orders without the supervisor of that area present. By going over his or her head you do them or yourself no favors
  • Bring a notepad and pen. Give out orders only in writing, and keep track of them so compliance can be enforced and the order followed up on later
  • NEVER NEVER NEVER accept problems from a junior. Always insist that they offer a solution. Even if you do not accept the solution or use a better one, their own solution to the problem should be expected

Alright, now let’s discuss what you are looking for when you do an inspection.

When conducting an executive inspection I always enter to room or space from the back if possible. This gives you the opportunity to observe the space and people quietly for a moment without interrupting. 

Note the general emotional state of the people in the room, as well as the cleanliness of their spaces.

Emotion is a clue as to what is going on, and also to the general productivity of a group or person. 

A highly productive person will tend to be more cheerful and satisfied than one who is unproductive or only busy without any real accomplishment of worth.

When you observe anger, resentment, grief or any other non-optimum emotion - your task as an executive is to get to the bottom of it. Never let a bad sign like that go unnoticed or unremarked. 

If it’s a personal reason, leave it alone or recommend the employee take 10 to get their head back in the game. If the reason is related to their tasks, helping them sort out the barrier or frustration will lead to a more productive team.

Cleanliness is a relative term but an important clue to the productivity of the group or individual. 

Areas that are too clean may indicate that little to I work is being done!

But a filthy space, stacked dishes or food stains, tools and equipment not put away when finished is a sign that the personnel have no pride in their work.

This might mean nothing - perhaps the person simply had a lazy childhood, or it can mean that the employee is guilty of doing something that lowered their morale and sense of pride. 

Only when combined with other signs of guilt - such as harshly condemning management or fellow employees, sudden departure, etc., should this be pointed out or acted upon. But it is something for the executive to be aware of.

Once you have observed the general vibe of the room, approach one of the employees and begin your discussion with the question:

“What are you working on?”

Note the tone of voice; it’s not, “What are you working on!!?”

An accusative or harsh tone can get the inspection off on the wrong foot and fluster the employee. 

You should also note that it is important throughout the discussion to insist upon INSPECTION. In other words, ask to LOOK at what they’re doing, don’t just listen to their explanation of it.

Ideally, an executive would be an expert in the area he supervised, but if you are not - have the employee explain the step or task. Never pretend you understand it or accept an explanation that makes no sense to you.

When inspecting what they are working on, there are certain illogics you are wary of.

Tasks taking too long, added inapplicable steps, or omitted steps or information to name a few. 

Look for opportunities to improve efficiency. Signs the employee may need further training or drilling to improve performance, and yes - look for mistakes m, violations of policy or procedure and signs of laziness or wrongdoing. 

But overall the inspection ought to be an uplifting experience for good employees. They should know and feel that you’re here because you truly care - about them, their efforts matter to you, and you want to know what is really going on.

Next, ask them if there is anything they’re running into or if they need any help. 

Remember, this is not the time to pitch in with your own two hands unless it an emergency, or accept problems with no proposed solution. 

But listen and acknowledge - make the employee feel understood, and if needed issue orders for a resolution, either to the supervisor, for training, or to authorize the employee to take action themselves as the circumstances demand.

By doing this activity in each area of the business or to each employee in a small business once or twice a day, an executive gathers the information they need to get their job done.

Being an executive isn’t a desk job - no matter what the movies say. 

And an executive who only reads reports about what’s going on or listens but doesn’t observe their company will make a lot of mistakes. 

I hope you found this episode helpful! If you would like more information about how to recruit or hire, train and manage a team - join my Inner Circle coaching program by clicking below:

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About the Author

I'm Sarah Nadler and I help small business owners achieve work/life balance by increasing their revenues in a way that does not decrease their time.