Processes – every company in the world has them, no matter how big or small. If you think your company is the exception to this, think again. They still exist, but they’re probably just not documented. They live inside your employees’ heads.
Because processes are the common ground among many different types of business, it’s amazing to see how few of them properly manage their procedures. This includes not just documenting them, but keeping them up to date, and making them accessible for all employees.
And even after all that is complete, leaders need to ask themselves: are employees actually following these processes?
Why Don’t Employees Follow Processes?
This varies greatly depending on the nature of the business, but there are a few common factors seen across multiple industry sectors.
Can’t find them – One of the most common things we see is that employees don’t follow processes because they can’t find them. They may be in an obscure location or buried amongst many other documents. Either way, no one can follow a process if they can’t find it.
Inaccurate or outdated – Your employees, especially the ones who have been around for a few years, will know when a process is inaccurate or not up to date. If even parts of your processes are inaccurate, employees will do away with them, potentially missing critical steps.
Hard to follow – Not all processes are straightforward. In fact, most processes are documented when there’s a lot of detail, or the process is particularly complex. And if your processes are not intuitive, or are difficult to follow, your employees will try and find their own way to execute the process, attempting to find shortcuts or a simpler way to achieve the same end result.
Dry, boring – A process could have all the right information, be up to date, and be laid out logically. But if it’s too long, or too text-heavy, your employees won’t read it.
The Impact of Not Following Company Processes
Inconsistent customer service – For every customer interaction, whether it’s responding to a support call or handling a return, there’s always a process to carry out. And if these processes aren’t followed, customers will receive inconsistent levels of service, jeopardizing your ability to retain customers and acquire new ones.
Increased errors – When processes aren’t followed correctly, employees find their own shortcuts and have to make a lot of judgement calls. This leads to important steps getting skipped and mistakes being corrected later on.
Higher costs – All of the implications listed above have a direct impact on your bottom line. Many of these costs are hidden but add up over time, and can prevent growth.
Safety concerns – For certain organizations, incorrect execution of processes can cause life-threatening injuries to employees. In fact, neglecting safety procedures is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries.
How to Create Processes Employees Will Actually Use (and Enjoy Using Too!)
Getting your employees to consistently follow your company’s processes may seem like an uphill battle, but with the right strategy in place, you can get everyone on board, and work together to improve your business.
1. Make them easy to access – As mentioned earlier, no one can follow processes that they can’t find! The first step here is to ensure that your processes are accessible to all employees, anytime, anywhere.
2. Evaluate the accuracy of information – If you want all employees (including senior ones) to follow your company processes, you’ll need to do a deep dive into them to determine what’s accurate and what needs to be archived. Once this is done, fill each process with accurate, up-to-date information, and watch your process adoption soar.
3. Give processes owners – As your company grows, your processes are almost guaranteed to change, and this is where many people get lost. Multiple versions can get created, and no one knows which process is the correct one to follow. But when a process has a clear owner, you can ensure that there will be one consistent version and that it will always be accurate and up to date. This can also help with accountability and engage process owners.
4. Lay them out logically – This will prevent your employees from feeling confused or overwhelmed. This step can take some time, but it’s critical if you want your employees to always follow processes. Make sure there’s a clear path for employees so they don’t get lost.
5. Make them visual – Have you typically enjoyed reading several pages of dry process documentation that are filled entirely with text? Well, your employees don’t either. Fill your processes with visuals like colours, images, and screenshots. This can also help break information down into smaller digestible pieces.
6. Get employees involved – Want employees to follow your processes? Get them involved! Leverage their knowledge and expertise! This will not only get your team to follow the processes, it will improve your processes so they’re the best they can be. Often, it’s employees who can most clearly see areas to improve or ways things can be done more efficiently.
How to Get Started
It can seem overwhelming to entirely revamp all of your company’s processes, so we suggest starting small. Begin with improving the processes that are causing you the most pain.
This could be a process that’s driving a lot of errors, increasing costs, or confusing employees.
Once you’ve successfully deployed your first procedure, it will become easier to repeat this cycle, and before you know it, you’ll have a library of procedures that are accessible, accurate, and that are actually being used by your team.
You’ll see a huge impact in your business’s operations, and you’ll get to watch your bottom line soar.
This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of ProcedureFlow
For more information about ProcedureFlow, visit: www.procedureflow.com