checklist prompt call to actionA quality control checklist PROMPT is an important cue or incentive; a call to action in a step-by-step process.

Amazing, how many business owners and managers say, “We ask an employee to do a certain task or action; they do it for awhile, but then they forget or won’t do it consistently. Sometimes, not at all!”

Here’s a Recent Example…

A new software client told a story about how he had asked an employee to fill out a special form he had designed. It called for the description and quantity of finished goods being inventoried for a customer. The employee had failed to do it consistently; therefore, out of frustration, my client ended up doing it himself.

I could feel the tension from the client and his managers, as we discussed this problem. They all seemed totally perplexed that this simple task and other tasks could not be completed “as a matter of course” by their employees.

I asked one of their managers, “Do you have a PROMPT for your employees to do a certain task?”

“A what? You mean like a hat pin?” he laughed. Another manager joined in, “Or, maybe a two-by-four?”

“Not exactly,” I said, thinking of something a little less painful, as I explained what I meant by a “prompt.”

Unbelievably, they actually believed they should just be able to show an employee how and when to do something, and it would continue to happen!

Tell that to the Airlines!

Did you know, Airline pilots would be lost without checklists that contain a series of PROMPTS?  Now, you might not think a pilot should need a prompt to remember to lower the wheels before landing. However, that’s just one of hundreds of critical steps a pilot must remember in order to take off and land a plane safely. A pilot’s checklist of PROMPTS helps to ensure that not one important detail is forgotten, for YOUR safety!

If you’ve read my book SYSTEM BUSTERS: How to Stop Them in Your Business, you know I am a big proponent of checklists for every employee. PROMPTS help them to complete necessary tasks or actions, consistently.  NOTHING is just committed to memory or left to chance, as that can be deadly in any business!

Checklists should even include the time (or approx. time) of day certain tasks should be performed (i.e. 2:00 pm – Production Supplies ordered from vendors).

Daily Routine Checklists—specific to each employee—are able to bring order to a business. Other lists of PROMPTS include Quality Control Checklists, Service Control Checklists, and detailed Procedures.

About now, you may also be saying, “I’ve made checklists with prompts, but some employees won’t complete or turn them in.”

Okay, where is the PROMPT for them to START and COMPLETE a checklist?

Here’s how it works . . .

1)  Give the employee one of what I would call a “full circle” of Checklists. Also, a list of PROMPTS to complete certain tasks or actions specific to their job assignments.

2)  Give the employee an INCENTIVE for action, by having a follow-up system that monitors to ensure the employee has actually completed their checklist. We do this by giving each MANAGER a Daily Routine Checklist. YES, a manager ALSO needs their own Checklist!

3)  The manager’s Checklist needs a PROMPT to do a simple review of the checklists that employees under his or her supervision are required to complete and turn in.  If an employee fails to turn in or complete their checklist, then a non-conformance reporting document is submitted by the manager, to upper management. The PROMPT for submitting this document should also be on the manager’s Daily Routine Checklist.

4)  The non-conformance document is received and reviewed by the owner or upper management and the root cause of the non-conformance is determined.

5)  Next to be determined is the action needed to prevent this non-conformance from happening again (in this case, an employee not completing their checklist).

6)  The manager, as well as the employee who failed to complete the checklist, will sign the non-conformance document, which states that this was a personal error of non-conformance.

When an employee has been asked to sign one or two of these non-conformance documents, they get to see the big picture. They also see the importance of compliance as a team for the highest quality product and the benefits to all. This gives them incentive to complete the action or task on their Checklist in a consistent manner.

One Checklist Prompt influences Prompts on Other Checklists 

I call this completing the “full circle” of a system.

So, you’re thinking, “Whew! Philip this seems like a lot of extra work and will just slow things down!”


Also remember, you are already doing all of the steps I mentioned above. However, I suggest you’ve been trusting verbal directives given during impromptu meetings and liaisons in the hallways. How’s that working for you?

If you like the shoot-from-the-hip verbal solution—and it works for you with problems—fine!

We prefer a written solution that LOWERS WASTE, and PROMPTS accuracy.

Successful, error-free completion of job duties, less stress, the elimination of constant apologies to customers, and a cooperative team effort is, I believe, what we’re all looking for!

Did I mention?  Great Systems Work!