It’s incredibly frustrating to invest time and money designing procedures, only for your staff to ignore them. You might have one or two diligent employees who do everything by the book, but what’s happened to the rest?
Technically it’s not your fault. Psychologists have demonstrated over and over again that the human brain is naturally resistant to change. Our first instinct is to stick with what we’ve done before even if there is a better offer available.
But hiding behind the science isn’t going to help your business. With the right strategy in place, it is possible to get your staff using (and dare I suggest even enjoying) your procedures. The key is making it easy.
Drawing on my experience, I’ve come up with the top five reasons why staff don’t use procedures to help you troubleshoot where you might be going wrong.
#1. Your procedures are out of date
In case you haven’t noticed, the business world has changed A LOT in the past few years. Advancements in technology, the arrival of Generation Y in the workplace and the financial crisis have created lots of opportunities as well as many challenges.
To keep pace, you really should be reviewing your procedures on an annual basis. This will allow you to adapt to software changes, business growth and developments and industry change. You could also set up a channel for staff feedback, so they can let you know when procedures are out of date or if there is a better way of doing something.
#2. Procedures are unclear or complicated
In a well-intentioned attempt to minimise workplace disruption, procedures are often written by senior managers and then passed down to staff. This can result in procedures that aren’t suitable, don’t match the day-to-day activities of your team or are overly complicated. Staff will often create ‘shadow’ procedures if your solution is hard to use.
To ensure your procedures are relevant and practical, get staff involved in the design process. This will help secure their buy-in as they will feel valued and they will understand how the procedure is going to benefit their working day. You could also test the procedure with a small working group before rolling it out to the wider organisation.
#3. Procedures are hard to find
It sounds pretty basic, but storing your procedures in a folder in the cupboard or burying them in a computer filing system is not going to help with adoption. Well-written procedures need to be located online and easily accessible at all times. Creating an online portal for your procedures also gives you confidence the latest versions are being used.
#4. Your employees are not trained
If I could light up this section with a flashing neon light I would. Employee training – or lack of it – is one of the biggest reasons procedures don’t get used. Throw a new procedure at your employees without any training and odds are they’ll drop the ball.
Preparing users by giving them advanced warning that a new procedure is coming and training them properly will increase rates of adoption. Training shouldn’t just focus on how to execute the procedure, but also how it benefits staff. Where possible, tailor the training to suit the different job functions in your organisation.
We are strong advocates of online learning systems as they are cost effective, easily accessible and can incorporate a number of training tools such as how-to guides, FAQs, examples and instructions. For information on online learning, read about Enzumo’s Learning Management System here
#5. Your procedures don’t start with ‘Why’
“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” This thought provoking concept from Simon Sinek seems an apt place to finish my post for today. Simon believes that great leaders inspire action by communicating their ‘why’ – their reason for being in business – before they bother with the how or the what. I think this concept has huge application in everyday business, including in process adoption. If your staff understand your organisation’s greater purpose, they will be more onboard with the everyday activities that will help you achieve it.
Stay tuned for my next post where I take a look at this concept in more detail.
Until next time,