Running a company or team doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right standard operating procedures, your business is well-equipped for things to work on their own. It avails you the freedom and opportunity to take a break and spend time on other important things (even those that are not work-related).
A standard operating procedure is an official document that gives a detailed guide on how things are done in your business. It contains instructions of how tasks are executed and identifies the specific individuals who execute each task. Set standards give businesses an obtainable framework for repetitive processes and create consistency in operations.
Here are some examples of how systematization creates a foundation for results that are not accidental, but guaranteed:
Sam Craven, Co-Founder of Senna House Buyers, was running a “successful” business but was short of cash. He put the right systems in place, and quickly moved from trying to stay in business to diversifying and exploring bigger opportunities. Senna outlined a procedure for estimating repair-costs for existing properties, which they now use to efficiently and accurately estimate those costs on future homes.
Managing Director at Cornerstone Group, Tim Hoopmann, explains that creating systems makes for happier employees. The right systems create clarity and organization so that employees can regularly and effortlessly give their best, instead of being frustrated and wasting valuable time and resources.
Systematization also allows business owners like Tim to take advantage of remote work opportunities. He and his team members can work from anywhere without the limitations of being in an office. He doesn’t have to worry about his business suffering, while he attends to other important needs.
Here are 5 ways that procedure guarantees better employee performance:
1) Expertise Through Routine Procedures
Working based on assumptions without standard procedures, is too much risk to take in any business.
I am not saying that employees are robots. If you hire and train well, you can eventually count on people to work autonomously using their best judgment. But there are times, like when new hires are on-boarding, that knowledge transfer is especially critical. Every step must be clearly stated, with a how-to instruction to execute it. This removes the confusion that employees may experience in the absence of a point of reference.
Having performed a series of tasks over and over again, employees naturally get used to the system, develop their skills and can effortlessly execute these tasks, without feeling any frustration.
2) Maintaining Quality
To be on your A+ game in business, your services or products must be among the best available. This isn’t about getting it right sometimes, with an amount of acceptable failure. In the age of social media and blogging, there has to be consistency in the quality of products and services you offer.
If a first time client is impressed with your services and comes back to patronize you, giving them something less than what they got the first time will be a deal-breaker.
Processes provide a framework for operations, creating uniformity in service delivery. They prevent avoidable errors that can occur when you work without specific standards. Why worry about losing clients due to a drop in your level of delivery?
3) Performance Management
Check in with your team regularly to evaluate employee performance and detect shortcomings in operations. Failure to do this can lead to a downfall in productivity. With SOPs that have been tested, you can easily measure performance. When KPIs or other metrics are not being hit, you can dig deeper to determine what needs to be addressed.
The first step is for managers to discover where there is a lag in performance. Educate employees about what they did wrong and help them to perform better by avoiding those errors. The second step is listening to employees. They use processes every day and are the best people to provide feedback on what’s working and what could be improved.
4) Saving Time
Trying everything in a bid to find what works, is time consuming and exhausting. Employees will be tired and unnecessarily slow in their performance. And clients may not have the patience to wait, especially with competitors looming in the shadows.
SOPs create competent staff that get the job done, in the fastest time possible. They can fly through standard processes, and then slow down to give that added bit of care to creative work or atypical customer interactions.
When they are good at what they do, time isn’t wasted. Getting more work done, more efficiently, equates to better performance and increased productivity.
5) Scale Process, Scale Business
The goal of nearly every business owner is for their business to grow. When the time comes for you to scale, you need to be proactive about all of the changes that come with expansion.
For example, you will have to create communication processes as teams split off and become more specialized. As you grow, your marketing team may become two teams: one specializing in content and the other in demand generation. What processes will allow them to work together most effectively?
Standard operating procedures are efficient and effective, regardless of whether you have been in business for years or are just starting out. Once documented and implemented, they guarantee positive results. All you have to do, in the case of expansion, is to replicate procedures that have worked for you on new teams or with new employees and refine them over time.
Systematization sets certain critical aspects of your business running on high speed autopilot, without the need for you to play catch-up. You simply play a supervisory role; observing the systems you have put in place, checking-in, and supporting people to perform at their peak. When you put the right systems in place, the results you desire will be measurable, powerful, and repeatable.
Owen McGab Enaohwo is the CEO and Co-Founder of SweetProcess, an app that enables you to quickly and easily document how to accomplish repetitive tasks so that your employees can do their best work.