Professional Development: Leader Standard Work Template in Research Administration

by hrzink@cmh.edu on Thursday, March 29, 2018

Organizations around the world are adopting the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies, and this includes the Leader Standard Work template. The Leader Standard Work template is a double-sided printed checklist that you carry with you throughout the day. The purpose of the template is to build a framework around your position, to improve processes, and to help you become a better leader. If done correctly, you should be able to hand this piece of paper to someone brand new and they would have instant knowledge of what you do. Think of it as preparing notes for your backup when you go on vacation—everything you do is written down in one place.

This sheet acts as many things—your daily/weekly/monthly to-do lists, reminder of organizational goals, and coaching notes for your employees. Chances are good that, for better or for worse, you are already doing all of these things in other systems. We all have our to-do lists and upcoming projects reminders. This sheet brings all of those pieces together in a unified format and allows your brain to focus on the task at hand.

Unfortunately, the usual template that comes out of the box from your employer usually does not fit the life of a Research Administrator. We have a different sort of daily work that, at times, is inconsistent and 90% variable from day to day. But do not despair, with only a few changes we can turn the standard Leader Standard Work template into a useful tool for the world of research leadership.

The most common fields within a Leader Standard Work template are generally not applicable to us and what we do. We took the standard form, and created an entirely different form taking inspiration from the teachings of the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.

Your Leader Standard Work template could include the following fields:

  • Monthly Commitments (i.e., Orientation for new researchers)
  • Weekly Commitments (i.e., Tracking proposal development and education communications)
  • Daily Commitments (i.e., Submissions audit, tomorrow’s meeting agendas, to-do list audit)
  • Research Proposal Development & Submissions
  • To-Do List
  • Follow-Up Items (Follow-Up, Escalated, or Waiting On)
  • Projects On Base/Deck/Parking Lot (i.e., working on right now, working on next, working on in the future)
  • Cross-Training and Escalations (i.e., for specific direct-report employees/trainees)
  • Professional Development Goals
  • Space of Infinite Possibility (i.e., Quotes)

Recently, we have found that tracking broad monthly goals in a visible way was more productive than tracking individual steps on several separate lists. Therefore, the backside of my Leader Standard Work is now one big 2018 calendar with lines under each month for goals and deadlines. It is easier for me to track the year as a whole and funnel monthly goals into my daily to-do list during my weekly review.

The Leader Standard Work template allows you to set clear expectations, focus on priorities, and track your goals/projects throughout the year. Whether your organization is just getting started with Lean Culture or if you are familiar already with its principles, the Leader Standard Work template is a critical step in ensuring your team’s accountability and success. 

Leader Standard Work Template

Leader Standard Work – Monthly Template


Authored by:
Holly Zink
Manager of Research Project Development and Education
Children’s Mercy Kansas City
hrzink@cmh.edu