21st June 2017

Are you an accuracy ace?

It’s that time of year again. Wimbledon is almost upon us and the twang of tennis ball on racquet strings, along with the players’ cries of exasperation and exhilaration, fills the airwaves. Precision and attention to detail means being ‘in’ or being ‘out’. Serving an ace puts the player in control of the game.  As it is in tennis, so it is in the workplace.  Accuracy matters.  And accuracy, like your forehand swing, is a trainable skill.  One that can be learned, practised and perfected. Mistakes at work, just like mistakes at Wimbledon, can cost a fortune!  So take our accuracy test for June, and find out whether you’re an accuracy ace.

But first, here are ten quick ‘Accuracy Ace’ tips:

Use Negative Thinking

Most people have heard about the power of positive thinking.  But negative thinking?  Here’s how it works in the context of optimising accuracy: ask yourself, ‘What could go wrong here?’. Think about what could go wrong and you’ll anticipate it before it actually happens!

Identify Critical Factors

Focus on what matters most - the Critical Factors - and you’ll get the really important stuff right.  Identify the really crucial issues that make or break the successful completion of a task or project and make sure these are 100% correct.  Everything else will follow from that. 

Learn how to concentrate

Human beings are designed to be distracted. We’ve only survived as a species because we’re easily diverted.  Take short mental breaks (‘ergo breaks’) to reset the brain between tasks and you’ll be more productive. And remember to breathe properly too! Oxygen to the brain is important for staying alert.

Work at the optimum speed for accuracy

To truly concentrate, you need to be working fast enough to ensure your brain doesn’t wander off and think of other things. Most people think that to be more accurate you need to slow down. But that’s a myth.  You need to go fast enough to focus 100% on your task.  And that’s faster than most people think it is!

Don’t try to multi-task

Nobody can think about two tasks at once!  You can drive whilst talking to a passenger in your car; you can get dressed whilst listening to the radio.  But you can’t enter someone’s contact details into your phone whilst also writing an email to someone else.  You can’t have a conversation with a colleague whilst updating your database either!  So don’t even try.  Do one thing at a time and be engaged completely in that task.

Win big rewards from small improvements

We’ve heard about the British cycling team who worked on tiny incremental improvements to win Olympic gold medals; we know that Wimbledon tennis players spend hours and hours perfecting a particular stroke, making tiny adjustments to their strokes to win single points - and whole matches. The same applies to accuracy.  Generally speaking, we get around 97% of what we do correct.  But that 3% error rate results in hundreds, if not thousands, of wasted hours and pounds down the drain.  Make no mistakes, it pays to develop your accuracy skills! Small improvements = big gains.

Pay attention to detail

The little things matter. A decimal point in the wrong place can change things by a factor of ten. In the medical world it can even kill you.  It only takes a fraction of a second to make a mistake like that but the consequences are long lasting and potentially lethal - and certainly expensive! Helping people to see that what they do really matters encourages them to take a pride in their work. Detail matters.

Share mistakes and ‘near-misses’

We all talk about ‘learning lessons’ from mistakes. But how do we make the learning valuable? We need to be open about mistakes when they occur and we need to share the learning outside the immediate circle of people affected. It’s a total waste of a learning opportunity if others aren’t made aware of the error. You must share the learning to avoid the same, or similar, thing happening again.

Plan to be resilient

When an error does occur it’s tempting to drop everything to deal with the unfolding consequences.  So it’s useful to take time before that happens to plan how you will react if and when something goes wrong.  What factors will you consider? How will you weigh up the respective costs of fixing the mistake, and of not fixing the mistake? What else could suffer in the meantime, and how will you ensure disruption to normal operations is kept to a minimum?

Look for mistakes

When checking your work, say to yourself, ‘there is a mistake here somewhere and I’m going to find it’. For example, next time you send an email, ask yourself, ‘am I sending this to the right person?’, ‘have I spelled their name correctly?’, ‘have I got the subject line right?’, ‘have I got the facts and figures in my message correct?’, ‘do I intend to include all the other messages in the email thread?’. By proactively looking for the mistakes you’ll find them.


Accuracy Skills Training

This is just a tiny flavour of the topics and concepts covered in our unique accuracy skills and error prevention training programmes. If you’d like to know how to become an Accuracy Ace, call us on 01638 723590. Visit our website www.accuracyprogramme.co.uk or email accuracy@scottbradbury.co.uk for more information.

We offer two programmes dealing with two distinctly different types of error:

Developing an Eye for Accuracy for reducing data error (for example, transposition errors, spelling clients’ names incorrectly, putting decimal points in the wrong place)

Preventing Mistakes at Work for avoiding ‘silly’ mistakes or blunders, where the outcome of our actions is not what we intended. (For example, sending a document to the wrong person, or overlooking a task that needs to be completed for a process to be successful).

Subscribe to our monthly fun accuracy tests

Each month we publish a light-hearted accuracy test to help focus people on the importance of ‘getting it right, first time, every time’.  This month our test has a tennis Wimbledon theme and you can download the test for June here.

Subscribe to receive these tests each month by completing the request form.

Are you an accuracy ace?

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Accuracy Asides is the name of our accuracy blog

You get to hear about our latest accuracy course results, the real-life 'bloomers' which come to our attention and all the latest news and juicy gossip about errors! We share accuracy tips and advice too.

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