Article provided by Noble Prosperity
Regularly I hear the same complaint from business owners: ‘My staff don’t do what they are supposed to’.
Intrigued by this continual comment, a little investigation on my part provided this following insight: A major contributor to people not doing what is supposedly expected of them is due to ambiguity and lack of clear policies or procedures.
So why are set policies and procedures so important in your business? – Quite simply put, these guide the actions of individuals involved in the business to provide consistency which in turn ensures and safeguards the well-being of the staff, volunteers and everyone connected to the business.
So, the real questions you should ask are:
- What policies and procedures do you have implemented?
- Does the individual staff member have a clear understanding of the required task?
- Does the relevant staff member have the skill to fulfil the required task?
- What training and instruction have been supplied?
- What measurement procedures are in place?
- Have clear turn-around times been established and are the turn-around times realistic?
- What accountability measures are in place?
- And if all else fails, what disciplinary code is enforced?
In my 20-odd years in business I have met very few malicious or uninterested employees. For the most part the ‘worker bees’ arrive at work, wish to do their best, get into preferably no trouble, hope for job security and perform optimally in a kind, friendly, safe, and secure environment. So, if we already have the employee; best we ensure we do our part in order to enable them to perform optimally. To train current, engaged and loyal employees is a far cheaper option than replacing them and dealing with continual staff turnover.
To address ambiguity in policies and procedures, one has to understand the various main roles in the position. This is the ‘what’. Then we need to break it down to specific activities – the ‘how-to’ of every major role in the position.
Let’s look at the major roles of a receptionist for example:
- Answer phone calls,
- Meet and greet customers,
- Respond to queries, and
- Reply to emails.
Looks simple enough, and sadly this is where most instructions and training, unfortunately, stop. But let’s break the ‘What’ of these major roles down into activities
We will continue with the example of a receptionist, and break the first major role down into activities.
- Answer phone calls
- Answer all calls with ‘Good day, Company name, how may I direct your call?’,
- Address clients by Mr, Ms, sir or mam,
- To transfer a call to the desired person, advise caller ‘please hold, I’m transferring you to Joe/relevant party’ and announce the call to the relevant party,
- Should the relevant party not be available, take a message from the caller. Ensure to obtain the caller’s name and telephone number. Email the message to the relevant party, and
- If you have a switchboard, you will have to set out exactly how to answer, transfer and recall telephone calls.
These are just examples but hopefully it brings my point across. When last was every major role in your business been separated into individual or divisional major roles, and activities allocated to each of these roles?
If the answer is ‘never’, know that you are one of many. But to get the best from every person in your operation I highly recommend you start somewhere.
A good start would be to look at all the various divisions you have in the business:
reception, sales, marketing, admin, bookkeeping, and management. From there establish major roles per division bearing in mind that it is not only important to get the input from the relevant members on your team, but it is also important not to allocate a staff member to each role until you have finished all the activities. Not allocating staff until you are done will ensure you can objectively assess your staff needs, ensuring no-one is completely snowed-under whilst others are underutilised.
In most businesses, your staff are your most expensive resource, so use them wisely.