April 8, 2020 | Alex Paradies

7 Skills to Improve During Social Distancing

What is the most valuable way to spend your time while working from home?

For those of us doing the best we can to protect those we love by social distancing, working from home, and self-quarantining, this time can feel frustrating. Here are seven skills we think you should be doing while working from home:

  1. Discover Hidden Opportunities in Your Data
  2. Learn to Coach Investigators
  3. Improve Your Investigation Toolkit
  4. Meet Experts Online
  5. Learn New Effective Software
  6. Improve Team Morale
  7. Build a Roadmap to Success

Most of our teams, jobs, and responsibilities are being restructured to allow us to function remotely. For some of us, we have more time to work on items that we regularly wouldn’t have time for during the daily grind of business interruptions and meetings.

1. Discover Hidden Opportunities in Your Data

One of the most valuable ways you can spend your time working from home is to start trending and analyzing your companies’ data. You can use these skills to determine what is a significant trend, and what is just normal variation? Note the Advanced Process Behavior Chart below.

You can also use Pareto charts to spot areas that need improvement. The Pareto Principle follows the 80/20 rule that “roughly 80% of the problems come from 20% of the causes.” It is helpful to cut that data in multiple ways. A simple approach would be to plot occurrence vs. different variables such as time (months), shifts (1st vs. 3rd), type (cuts vs. slips), the experience of the operator, or any other variable you have in the data. The goal when performing this analysis is the look for the variables that show the most significant contrast. The Pareto graph below shows the most common severe injuries reported to OSHA between 2015-2019 were fractures and amputations.

Pareto Chart

Once you have found a variable with the highest contrast, then perform another Pareto analysis, filtering for the largest data points. For example, to further breakdown the OSHA graph, you could next look at body parts that were most affected by fractures and amputations. This process of digging deeper into Pareto charts will help guide you to focus on the problems with the biggest impact and give you a way to measure progress.

However, when doing any kind of trending, you need to make sure you:

Build your skills and learn more about trending. Check out TapRooT® Book 8: Performance Measures and Trending for Safety, Quality, and Business Management.

2. Learn to Coach Investigators

The next set of skills that you should improve is coaching and reviewing old projects and investigations. Working from home is an opportunity to take a step back and evaluate your past investigations using the following questions:

  • Were all corrective actions completed, and were results sustained?
  • Were there any missed opportunities for improvement or sharing across the organization?
  • What process, structure, or approach worked well?
  • What areas are we struggling with, or what needed more coaching?

By taking the time to review old investigations, it can allow you and your teams to develop strategies for better performance in the future. We recommend setting up some web meetings with your group and make reviewing older investigations a structured process for continuous improvement.

If you are interested in learning more about a structured approach to grading your investigations, consider attending our Grading Investigations for Better Root Cause Analysis on May 14th.

3. Improve Your Investigation Toolkit

From learning to make bread or picking up painting, many people are taking this time to learn something new and improve their skills. Likewise, now is an excellent time to enhance your skills as an investigator, engineer, supervisor, manager, or specialist. If you have taken the time to review your old projects, you should have an idea of where you need to improve. Look for online classes, books, or videos to help you stay sharp while we are stuck at home.

We have some excellent webinars coming out this month to help you improve your skills.

How to Conduct Effective Interviews for Incident Investigations With Barb Carr on April 15

Benna and Barb

The New Causal Factor Worksheet Webinar (for safety, patient safety, quality, and equipment failures) With Tim Diggs and Alex Paradies on April 30th

4. Meet Experts Online

Working from home can also allow you time to expand your LinkedIn Network. Often, we are so busy keeping our current systems running that we become siloed in our way of thinking. Spend a portion of your focus searching out new ideas and inspiration. This is a chance to reach out and network with different people across industries and countries. There is no telling what best practices or tools you may learn about if you take a proactive role in connecting with new vendors and potential business partners.

If you are not already connected with us on LinkedIn, take the time to connect with our staff or join our network.

5. Learn New Effective Software

Most corporate software systems have far more functionality and use than we realize. Teams should spend time becoming more familiar with the tools that they may be underutilizing every day. If your company doesn’t have software systems, you could also spend time becoming more familiar with standards or regulations that are important to your business. This time would also be well-spent updating those procedures and policies.

If you are looking to become more familiar with the TapRooT® Software, check out our TapRooT® Software Webinar on April 22nd.

6. Improve Team Morale

Morale and encouragement are critical when people are feeling isolated and scared. We are continually being bombarded with news and updates about COVID-19 and other items that lead to increased stress and worry. One of the best ways of keeping a team’s morale up is to see each other’s faces. YOu should be using your computer’s cameras to make sure your team will be having Facetime meetings. You can tell a lot more about a person’s well-being and mental health by seeing his/her face. Make sure you are touching basis regularly and keeping each other motivated. Try opening meetings with some positive news and make sure they feel comfortable if their pets and kids break into meetings. A little laughter and humor can go a long way to keeping a team in a positive and productive mindset.

7. Build a Roadmap To Success

Rarely do we have time to sit with our teams and lay out a solid strategy for improvement. Day-to-day business interruptions and responsibilities continually disrupt our efforts. A team’s goals derived from this time of social distancing should be based on data/facts, understood by the whole team, and tied to metrics so progress can be tracked. To help with this, we offer the TapRooT® Roadmap to Success.

Please follow all CDC guidelines on social distancing to keep your family and loved ones safe.

Stay safe, healthy, and keep your eyes out for all upcoming webinars and courses at our store page.


Career Development & Opportunities, Quality, Root Cause Analysis
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