Wait, what just happened? I look inquiringly through my safety glasses at the hygienist. She offers “You have some deep pockets around at least one older crown. When I’m done, we’ll go over proper brushing and flossing technique.” WHAAAAT? Did she not read my chart, that I am one of those patients who gets complimented on excellent teeth and oral hygiene every time I come in, not schooled on how to do something I’ve been doing well, longer than she has been out of diapers?!
I had plenty of time to ponder this new “un” (welcomed, planned, expected) development while she continued with my cleaning. I’ve laughed about how my penmanship, previously a strength, has eroded over time. I’ve fretted in good company about the decline of written business skills as the use of auto-correct tools and informal Short Message Service (SMS) a/k/a texting and social media communications increase. When it was time to be shown how to properly brush my teeth, I realized at some point that day I had started to take my excellent oral health for granted and had started to take shortcuts. Over time, I was inadvertently reinforcing bad habits through practice.
“People say, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. The truth is, you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it.” - Anonymous”
You and I both know all skills get stronger with practice. As an individual, remember to make sure you are practicing solid habits for improvement, not reinforcing bad habits or poor techniques, whether it’s in the gym, on your tablet, or with your toothbrush. As an HR, procurement or other professional, you place your trust in other people, whether internal or external, to keep up a level of quality, compliance, skill, etc. What controls do you have in place to ensure what was once done well continues to be done well? How frequently are you or your Managed Service Provider (MSP) auditing the process, the desired project control data points, the personnel who are directly involved, etc.? How do you know that practices which were once a strength, continue to be carried out in the same fashion such as IRCA or IIRIRA (I-9) compliance? Are you asking about training practices, internal checks and balances, and monitoring regular audits? Or, are you assuming what was once a strength, continues to be one?
What to do to prevent Skill Erosion with Your MSP
- Establish or confirm what the control points are in the quality process with your MSP. Who monitors them? Are you clear on the service your partner is providing?
- Ensure YOU audit those control points, on a regular basis. It’s your job to protect your organization. Don’t overextend trust to the detriment of your organization’s exposure.
- Understand how each person affected is trained, and when, on their role in that process. What is the process to keep their skills current?
- Make certain everyone involved is on the same page; if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. Do you have a RAM (Responsibility Assignment Matrix), RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) or LRC (Linear Responsibility Chart)?
- Understand issue resolution and escalation and make sure it’s in the contract. If I were a minor, my hygienist or dentist would have spoken to my parent or guardian. Is your MSP compelled to share information? If not, why not? Can they be now or in the future?
- Share best practices, broaden thinking, and develop together. We learn more when we learn together. Are you working together to benefit from the latest techniques and tools?
Take stock and take responsibility for what you are practicing as an individual. From that experience, look for opportunities where you can help cultivate good practices for long-term success and compliance from those around you.