The Rush Job
If there are two words that make quality and safety become expendable; those two words would be “rush job”.
What is A Rush Job?
Here is an odd question; have you ever considered what a rush job’s is? If you are like most people that answer is you probably never have asked this. Yet, it is a great question to ask if we want to understand why and how people’s behaviors act and react when they hear the term rush job.
A rush job comes about for many reasons. Some of these reasons are:
- A client has a new job they need priority on,
- A client has an existing job they moved the timeline up,
- A supply was delivered late,
- Key personnel were not present, or
- An internal process required maintenance or fixing which backed up all or many other projects.
No matter the reason for the rush job, it is fair to assess they are all unplanned events. These unplanned events then cause the organization and employees to add in more tasks to their current workload. It is the unplanned extra workload that push people to find shortcuts so they can complete all their assigned tasks. The way workers often find these shortcuts is to cut corners on quality and safety so they can become more efficient.
Organizations spend lots of time and money on their standards of quality and safety just to make these expendable when an unplanned task arrives. Therefore, it is imperative to understand and plan for the unplanned jobs so that quality, efficiency, and safety can always work in unison with each other.
Rush Jobs Are Always Completed
The first comparison is to look at the end result that rush jobs always are completed.
I have had so many rush jobs in my life, that I cannot even remember them all. In fact, I do not remember any of them… except for one. That one job that injured me and changed my family’s life. What I do recall is that all my rush jobs were always completed no matter if I beat the time target, met the target, or missed the target.
This shows how similar rush jobs and all other jobs are as they always get completed. Further, completing jobs is the end goal of any task. Is it then worth sacrificing quality and safety if we will achieve the expected outcome of a completed task?
Rush Jobs Are Not Important!!!
The second comparison looks at how important are rush jobs. This comparison helps the workers behavior put the proper degree of importance on these unplanned events when they occur.
When workers hear the words “rush job” their behaviors will put the weight on the word “rush”. This emphasis causes them to place more importance on this new unplanned task over the other work. Their behavior associates the word “rush” to equal speed. This association of increased speed is what causes quality and safety to be sacrificed.
However, this is a fallacy because all the jobs are important. We know this as the completion of all the jobs is what makes the organization successful, sustainable, and profitable. Since all the jobs are important to an organizations success, whether planned or unplanned, what was being communicated in the term “rush job”?
The actual message being communicated with rush job is that ‘this unplanned event’ is the next task to be completed. It was a matter of priority not importance. When we see a rush job as the next task instead of the most important task, it helps to put it into perspective. Just as all jobs have an order of priority for completion so does this task. It just happens this unplanned job is taking the place of the next work to be completed. It is by making the rush job similar to all other jobs (because it is) that allows for quality and safety to remain in the process just like we would for any other job.
There Will Always Be Another Rush Job
The last comparison to be made is creating an understanding that rush jobs, or unplanned jobs should be considered a normal event in the planned processes. This is because there will always be another rush job. They are a normal part of the process.
After all, just as soon as the crew takes a collective sigh of relief that this all-important job was completed, here comes another rush job. The behavior cycle starts again. This new rush job is given more importance. Efficiencies will be found by sacrificing quality and safety. Whether the target was missed, met or beat, the rush job will still be completed.
This understanding that rush jobs are a normal part of the process is important for the supervisors and management as it will help them to plan for the unplanned event. By making these preparations they will improve communication and processes to the employees for when an unplanned job comes about.
How do you plan for the unplanned? Understand what needs improving not what can be sacrificed.
Adding Efficiency to the Task
The way to plan for an unplanned task is to understand unplanned tasks require a greater need on efficiency. This need can be met by either increasing efficiency or by decreasing quality and safety. If we have processes on where and how we can help the employees increase efficiency, it allows management to make quick decisions when required to meet this goal.
Some ways to increase efficiency or to find efficiency increases are:
- Free up workers from other tasks that have flexible completion timelines,
- Temporarily hire more workers,
- Utilize overtime,
- Work with the client to increase the timeline,
- Have a meeting with the workers to gather their suggestions,
- Conduct investigations on completed rush jobs to assess and find areas of improvement,
The real improvement with the rush job is how this unplanned event is communicated. By communicating there is no difference between a rush job and all the other jobs; they are all important to the success of the organization, they all are completed and there will always be another rush job just like all other jobs. When we see the similarities between a rush job and all other jobs, I feel the best way to stop this cycle is to remove the word “rush” altogether and just communicate “its your job!”
For more information please visit my free Safety Minute video The Rush Job!
Sloppy work is another behavior that can cause workers to rush through a job due to loss of interests. This can have the same safety and quality concerns which require solutions on finding tasks that engage the workers.