Few things in business are less glamorous than reviewing your office policies and procedures. It’s way more fun to sell things and make money.
Have you experienced any of the challenges lately: missing deadlines, customer complaints, recurring annoyances? How often? What is it costing you in time, productivity, and customer retention? All of these challenges, and more, are symptoms of lack of clarity or lack of enforcement regarding your policies and procedures. These guidelines are part of the systems that run your business. Let’s presume, for now, that we have the right people running the systems. (If not, that’s a different subject…)
The first challenge is a lack of clarity on the part of the Team. We know that, in the absence of rules, people make up their own. Some of the most common excuses are: “Nobody told me….” Or “I didn’t know…” If you hear either, or both, of these you must act! Do we have policies and procedures? Are they written down? Does everyone have a copy? When was the last time they were revised? For example, if pagers were popular the last time you updated your company handbook, technology has changed enough to warrant re-visiting the rules of office conduct. One of the jobs of leadership is to remind the Team of that which they already know. Team meetings, of the whole gang or by department, are a great opportunity to address, review, and remind.
The second challenge is lack of enforcement on the part of leadership. In the absence of enforcement there are no rules! And if you think you are “too busy” to hold your Team accountable, the longer you wait, the higher the price. You may think otherwise, but your Team hears everything you say and watches everything you do. Inconsistency sends a message and sets the Leader up for trouble. For those of you who have raised children or grandchildren, the dynamic of Team accountability is very similar. (I realize you can’t spank your employees, but you can put them in a “time out”.) As a parent, if you tell your children: “Wash your hands and come to the dinner table in 5 minutes.” Or “Pick up your toys, brush your teeth, and into bed by 8:00.” You must say what you mean and mean what you say. If there are no consequences for following instructions, then the instructions are meaningless. Even worse, if the Leader selectively enforces the rules sometimes and not others, no one knows when to believe and when to achieve. This could also produce some significant legal liability in the workplace.
So, what to do? First, start by analyzing where you are right now. What do you have in place? Where are the gaps? Second, seek feedback from your Team. Where are their challenges? If you make their jobs easier imagine what that does for yours. Next, make a commitment and get started today. Select an area that needs the most improvement and get after it. Remember: positive thought without positive action leaves you with positively nothing.