For many people, it can be a huge challenge to keep a company running in an organized and efficient manner. That happens because most people are only equipped to solve problems on their area – most of us were taught to be specialists in one product, service or activity.
Start organizing your company!
That works just fine until, at some point in their lives the doctor, chef, journalist, engineer or sales person is promoted to a leadership position and suddenly he/she’s no longer responsible for solving problems or achieving goals: this person becomes responsible for organizing and managing other people’s activities. That’s where the trouble begins.
Check out some of the most common symptoms that this is happening on your work environment:
- If the leader is not around, on vacation for example, the team’s productivity reduces significantly or people are not able to make simple decisions;
- The team’s activities don’t have any execution standards, compromising the quality of the process;
- Each employee has its own way of controlling their part of the work;
- Team members don’t always know what to do in each step of the process;
- Deadlines are not respected and it’s hard to keep track of what’s late or what are the process’ bottlenecks;
- If one employee goes on vacation his/her activities are put on hold or are poorly executed because he/she’s the only one with sufficient knowledge / autonomy / resources needed for the execution;
- Information is poorly managed: lack of information control results in obsolete, duplicated, hard to find and unreliable info.
Averting these problems and organizing your company is a lot simpler than you think. Your business doesn’t need to be bullet proof, it only needs to be people proof.
Why should your business be people proof?
It sounds weird to say that, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t people be a business’ most important asset? Of course they should! A company’s good execution and competitive edge only exist because of people.
In order to have a competitive business, however, it’s essential that the organization, goals and methods of execution exist outside people’s heads in a format available so everyone can use it.
Let’s consider a company with 10 people on the sales team. It’s almost certain that, each time one of the salesman contacts a new potential customer they’re asked “how does this product/service work?”.
If one of the salesman creates an exceptional method for explaining how the product works, why not share it with all the team so they can use it as well?
It’s not a good sign when within a company there’s an area that worked one way with a previous manager only to change its ways when managed by someone else. The area shouldn’t have to change its ways to adapt to the way a new manager works.
Can you imagine how crazy it would be if each surgeon operated on a cardiac surgery its own way? What about if each airplane pilot chose to fly a Boeing 737 the way he thought was best?
The acquired knowledge, learning and best practices of a certain role should be inherent to the role instead of the people executing it. The necessary information, tools and method to fulfill a task should be available for anyone that’s available for it, regardless of who’s doing it.
When your business’ quality of execution relies solely on good faith, experience and the memories of the people currently working at it, you’re probably missing a few opportunities of becoming more competitive.
Don’t shoot the messenger – you are your process’ bottleneck!
Making the necessary tools and methods of execution available for everyone in your team isn’t as complex, expensive or as hard as you think. It’s also very likely they can attain higher performance levels if you do.
Make it your mission to extract all the information from your (or your manager’s) head and let the team know how each task should be accomplished, what are the decision criteria you expect them to adopt and what are your expectations towards the results of each position. It’s also important you let them know how they should react to daily or sporadic events.
The best way of doing that is implementing processes. However, in order to do that without adding complexity or strings to your company’s structure, there’s a right approach to adopt. It’s a simple rule: KISS – keep it simple, sir.
Processes exist to help organizing your company by letting you put your business in autopilot, letting everyone know what they have to do and when they have to do it depending as little as possible from you for executing their tasks.
Put your team on autopilot
If every single day the same thing happens and you act exactly the same, how could you possibly expect different results?
Taking advantage of my poetic license, I’ll quote a cliché that says “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”.
Changing your approach and standardizing the most common activities you’ll be able to guide your team into a more efficient and autonomous execution with processes and playbooks.
Here’s how you can do that:
- List the activities that happen on a regular frequency. You can sort them by recurrence frequency (daily, weekly, monthly) or by trigger (team, customer, conditionals or other events).
- After you know which activities you’re focusing on it’s time to determine the ways they have to be executed and define processes. Never forget: KISS, KISS and KISS. Always Keep It Simple, Sir! For simple activities, a training session it’s enough. For more complex tasks, design a process flow and use management tools to guide and track the team’s performance.
- Present these standards of execution to your team and ask them to act according to the process.
- In the event of a different situation from what was listed as standard, tell your team to ask for your assistance.
- After dealing with this different situation, add a standard solution to deal with it to your process.
- Share the solution with your team
- Enjoy all the peace and quiet.
Following these steps will allow you to structure your operation as if it were a factory with different production lines. Some of these lines will be working everyday, non-stop, such as your sales process. Others will work sporadically according to the demand, such as expense reimbursement.
The most important lesson here is that a team cannot depend on a manager to work. If either the manager or team members are absent and the operation stalls, that means your processes aren’t working as they should.
Start slowly: Implement changes one case at a time
Implementing efficient processes should never be an entire company or even an entire team’s agenda at the same time. To start things with the right foot, choose one department within the company then narrow it down to a team then narrow it again to a person from this team. After you do that, you should target the process that’s easier to change involving as little people and complexity as possible.
As soon as this process is implemented and is running stably without any resistance from the team you can propose improvements. Only after you obtain concrete evidences on how these changes improved quality, delivery time or cost you’ll be able to go on and standardize other processes.
Why only one case at a time?
First of all, when you decide to change and implement a process you’ll be taking people out of their comfort zone. That can cause a lot of doubts, uncertainty and fear which can cause resistance.
You’ll need to be available 24/7 to ensure the implementation is going well and extinguish eventual fires. For that reason, it wouldn’t be very wise to have more people than you can handle depending on you.
Also, by implementing one change at a time you’ll (hopefully) gather success cases that can be used as leverage when convincing the team to make more changes. Again, another thing you should avoid is having people complain about your improvement suggestions without having evidence of how it can impact the process’ quality.
To sum things up, start slow and implement one process at a time for a domino effect.
Check out the next post of this series:
Begin organizing your company with Pipefy!
Pipefy is an intuitive, simple to use, process management software. It allow businesses of all sizes to run the entire company’s processes in a single platform, ensuring efficiency and solid execution.
Pipefy offers a great variety of pre-designed process templates to provide a base for you to design your own processes.
Its entirely flexible and customizable structure allows you to adapt Pipefy to your needs. It also offers tools to help automate, integrate and measure your processes.