Creating a Standard Way of Managing Your Work, Team, and Personal Goals

By Audra Bradfield

June 24, 2022

Creating a Standard Way of Managing Your Work, Team, and Personal Goals

Editor’s note: This week we are departing from our regular blog approach to bring you something a bit more personal. Most if not all professionals struggle at some point in time with keeping up with all the details and getting the truly important tasks completed. Audra Bradfield discusses Leader Standard Work, an approach that can work in any field. You may have heard about this approach in your Lean, Six-Sigma, or Quality Improvement training over the years. We hope you enjoy her article.


Every day I lead teams and executives through transformational improvement. This includes coaching them to find waste in their day-to-day work and removing it resulting in a more efficient way of working. With that being said, I must confess, I cringe and fight the urge to run in the other direction when someone tries to talk with me about time management. As an overachiever and recovering perfectionist, I am always thinking about the latest and greatest way to squeeze more productivity into my day. I constantly ask the question; how do I turn a minute into an hour and a day into a week’s worth of productivity? And yet the thought of applying what feels like the flavor of the month methodology to achieve magical levels of productivity invokes feelings of dread and exhaustion.

The solution I stumbled upon (while trying to run away haha) was a tool called Leader Standard Work (LSW) 1. I have been using this tool for 6 years and I continue to refine it to meet the needs of my work and home life. I love this tool because it can be as detailed or high level as you need. It can simply be an excel document, with a few checklists of tasks I need to complete today, this week through the next three months, or printed on an 11x17 sheet of paper, or entered into an electronic tool of some sort.

There are a few game-changing features of my LSW I would like to share:

  1. 3 Month View of Calendars: I love having 3 months of calendars at my fingertips. It prompts me to think ahead on what I need to do and proactively resolve any conflicts on my calendar. On my spreadsheet, these calendars are 2 inches x 2 inches each in size. I cross off the days I plan to be OOO, write in critical dates I need to keep top of mind like major projects and meetings such as rapid improvement events, Joint Commission prep, budget season, and when my kiddos have their first day of school. And then the best part, I get to cross off the week once it is complete!
  2. Areas of Focus: Many of us set goals and then promptly forget them in the busyness of day-to-day demands. And often these are important goals. They are for professional development, fitness, family, or emotional health. And yet the importance alone is often not enough to help us prioritize achieving them. The LSW helps you to think about the daily, weekly tasks to achieve those goals. It also provides a status update at a glance. Let’s say my goal is to run 2 miles, 3 days a week. On my LSW I have a 5-week view with check boxes corresponding to each day. If I ran 2 miles on Monday, I check off my Monday run box. By the end of the week, I’ll be able to see at a glance if there are two check boxes checked or not. I also have an empty notes section to capture the reasons why I did not achieve my goals that week. Perhaps, my goal is to round with my team once a week or spend 1 hour of meaningful time with my kids a day. It could be any goal great or small, in or out of the office. Having visibility on priority tasks set us up for success to achieve our goals.
  3. Gratefulness, Joy, and Reflection: I have gone to conferences, and read many books and articles that all punctuated the importance of pausing to reflect on gratefulness and joy in life. Admittedly, I have struggled to do this. Perhaps it is because it feels fluffy, unnatural, or not as demanding as the ever-mounting to-do list. To help get started with this, I have a joy and reflection section on my LSW to jot down a few items that brought me joy at work and home. Like the areas of focus, I have a 5-week view, the visibility of 4 weeks of blank boxes is just as compelling as 5 weeks of joy to think, reflect and regroup.
  4. Meeting Management: I am not sure about you, but usually I am busy racing from one meeting or task to the next. Have you ever paused to think, “do I really need to attend all of these meetings?” I am reminded of the popular memes I have seen on social media that say, “another meeting that could have been an email (insert sigh of frustration).” On my LSW, I have a list of reoccurring meetings. Simply listing out all the meetings was an eye-opening exercise. As you may suspect, I identified some meetings I did not need to attend. Other colleagues of mine discovered meetings that could be a good learning opportunity for an employee they are mentoring and invited them to attend some of the meeting occurrences as their delegates. It is powerful to see in advance of the day or even the week how you have already committed your time. Even if you cannot remove a meeting perhaps the awareness of it will allow you to be more intentional of your purpose and impact by attending it.
  5. Proactive Work on Critical Reports & Projects: Every year there is a Joint Commission survey, and every year there seems to be a scurry to get ready for it. I am reminded of the Christmas holiday preparation that occurs every year. The stress, scrambling, and frankly chaos that occurs to procure gifts, plan dinners and parties could rival any Joint Commission survey prep! You would think that the Christmas holiday date was cruelly moved every year. Similarly, for those of us who work in healthcare, it feels like the Joint Commission survey is a surprise. I am not at all suggesting we do not keep quality, safety, and providing the best of patient care top of mind. I am suggesting that there are tasks, preparation, meetings, etc. that could be outlined and done progressively instead of in rapid stress mode! Using LSW you could create a list of priority prep items with due dates 3 months in advance. Or something as small as outlining a few (no more than three) prompting questions to ask during your rounds concerning Joint Commission prep could go a long way.
  6. Visibility of Follow-up Lists for Team Members: On the LSW I have a couple of boxes to jot down items I need to cover with colleagues. Maybe right now you are capturing these on post-it notes, scratch sheets of paper, a notebook, or email. I like using LSW for this because I can see all of my follow-up items at a glance for all of the colleagues I need to follow up with. This is simple but powerful. Instead of sending an email or text message for one item at a time as it occurs to me. I can collect items and then send one email or already have my agenda built for my next touchpoint.

When you think about it, our life and everything we do is one long task list. We get to decide what is on our list and work out the best way to manage it.

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Photo credit: Antonov Roman

  1. Leader Standard Work — a Fundamental Shift in Management Philosophy, , accessed 06/21/2022
Audra Bradfield

Audra Bradfield, MDiv, CLSSBB, PMP is currently a Continuous Improvement Specialist for Nemours Children’s Health, where she has worked for 6 years. She enjoys partnering with associates at all levels of the organization to create breakthrough improvements. She is mission driven and loves having a role in improving the care of children. Prior to this role, she worked in Process Development and Project Management at NASA Glenn Research Center. Audra is a graduate of Miami University Richard T. Farmer business school and resides in Florida with her husband and three children.