Also known as business processes or procedures, when these are implemented well, they can make a significant contribution to the improvement of any business, notably through the creation of consistency (and reduction in errors caused by a more adhoc, unstructured approach). Ultimately this can create better client outcomes and experiences, something we are all interested in.
Below I identify three key areas that you can readily address, if you haven't already.
Forms and Procedures
Having standardised forms, checklists and written procedures in place drives numerous benefits in business. Particularly important when a business is experiencing growth, however this is equally applicable to sole trader operations. Benefits include:
• Improved efficiency;
• Increased consistency of message and service;
• Business continuity;
• Provision of a standard approach to training new staff members;
• More time to focus on your own tasks where you are most productive.
In creating your documents, ensure you write for the end-user, they are easily accessible and updated as required.
In my experience, this is something that usually can be done better. How many business owners can put up their hand and say they have a new staff induction process, which is written down? I hope it is a lot.
It is important to make the induction process count, and ensure the newest member of the team feels like they belong, understanding the history and culture of the business and what it stands for, and knowing how to execute in the role from day one. This will create a feeling that the new arrival feels valued and reinforces they have joined a quality business that cares about them and the journey they are about to embark upon as a new employee.
More than just revisiting the job description and workplace OHS, some other areas you can cover off include:
• Why the business exists – its purpose and vision;
• Key people – with important introductions made;
• Product or service lines
• In-house vs. outsourced business activities
• Major clients
• Overview the current goals of the business - short, medium and long-term;
• Appointing a designated "go-to" person whose role it is to be an easy to approach, knowledgeable resource that makes the immersion into the business so much easier.
Essentially, if you make it as easy as possible for the new person, and create an excitement and enthusiasm in them that is the equal of yours, you will have a person who has emotionally bought into the business and will be more productive and dedicated than someone who is not.
The way in which training is delivered has a large impact on its success. Having a written checklist will ensure greater focus and direction. Employing the "See One, Do One, Teach One" approach is truly beneficial – encompassing a practical and comprehensive method lacking in the typical one-dimensional "telling" approach.
In addition, effective training is supported by:
• effective procedures and documentation as a reference point;
• a training plan (who needs training in what, for how long and to what level);
• training modules (a document outlining the training and assessment required to become competent in a task);
• feedback from the trainee to see what can be done better next time.
Training requires a considerable investment of time and money. The payoff, if done well, is an employee who has the confidence and skills to execute in the role to a high standard – driving improved outcomes from increased productivity.