What are Your Employees Really Doing?
If you were asked to write down what each person under your management does each day (or, let's say, what they're supposed to be doing)...could you do it?
You think so? Okay, could you write down HOW each of those employees does what they do, and how they interact with the tools you have provided them?
When I first tried to do that, I was shocked at how hard it really was. I would have said I knew the workings of our business inside-out. But, detailing what each employee actually does was more difficult than I ever imagined.
It's been over 15 years since I have challenged myself that way, in order to create systems for my business; and it's no surprise to me now when I see other business owners and managers, from a variety of industries, spending long tedious hours documenting the daily routine of just ONE key employee.
I challenge you to try it!
Select any one of your key employees to start with. Ask the employee to help you by writing down what they do on a normal day, from the time they walk in each morning, until leaving in the afternoon. Again, you will be surprised at WHAT they SAY they do.
Stay with me...there's good reason for this exercise. In fact, gathering such information is a key FIRST step to dramatically reducing all forms of waste in your company!
Recently, an owner of a printing company, who had accepted the challenge, told me it took him and a group of employees literally all day to document the daily routine for just one department manager. To say the least, the owner was stunned at the time involved.
You may be thinking, "What's the big deal? I can get JOB DESCRIPTIONS of our key positions from our industry association, or just download it online!"
Let me ask you, have you really STUDIED most Job Descriptions; even ones produced by professional consulting firms? They're vague at best!
Generally, a Job Description is an abbreviated list of tasks that rarely gives the detail as to HOW, WHEN, WHERE, or WHAT tools to use in actually performing the tasks.
A typical Job Description for, i.e., an Office Manager might say something like the following: "Maintains office services by organizing office operations and procedures; preparing payroll; controlling correspondence; designing filing systems; reviewing and approving supply requisitions; assigning and monitoring clerical functions, etc."
Okay, but how are those functions actually performed? What is the detailed process for each of those assignments?
See what I'm getting at?
There needs to be standardized processes for every area of your operation, not just vague assignments that leave a new employee to figure out some kind of procedure that may or may not fit with your organization. Give your new employee an established procedure for performing important tasks in your operation, and the new hire will be empowered to hit the ground running.
Each employee needs to have a Daily Routine Checklist (DRC) of assignments, complete with references to specific procedures for performing those assignments. So, what would that DRC look like?
In most businesses, the first thing an employee does when coming to work each morning, is to clock-in using time-tracking software or some sort of manual time sheet, or maybe they just report to a supervisor with a "Hello." So, FIRST thing on the employee's checklist might be: ___Clocked-in on arrival
Let's keep going! What might be the next items on the checklist? Maybe:
___Computer turned on
___Checked to see all data was properly backed up
___E-mails checked and time-sensitive e-mails handled
___Coffee made for everyone
___Copy machine turned on
___Paper trays loaded in copy machine
___Walkthrough of production area
___Prepared for sales meeting
Etc. etc. etc.
Starting to get the picture?
Now, consider each of the possible tasks above as a PROMPT to do something. Now ask yourself, how should an employee carry-out or complete each prompt?
Example, let's take the task/prompt above—Do a walkthrough of the production area. What does that mean? Why are they doing a walkthrough? What are they looking for? To whom will they report the results of the walkthrough?
There are a lot of WHY's to think about, not to mention Who, What or When!
An important thing to consider, as an owner or manager—when documenting a prompt/task such as "walkthrough"—you need to visualize doing the task yourself and how YOU would do it step-by-step. I have actually performed a task and written the procedure as I was doing it; and then I had someone else who knew little about the task to perform it, while I observed.
Are you beginning to see why, in some cases, it can take up to 40 hours to document in writing a "daily routine," detailing what a key employee does?
Then add the time it would take to write procedures, policies, preventive maintenance checklists, quality control checklists, etc., for some or many of the prompts/tasks on an employee's daily routine.
Below are just a FEW reasons WHY you should take the time to document in detail, an employee's daily tasks/assignments, and HOW that employee performs their daily routine:
- It helps you, the owner, begin to see clearly how your business operates.
- It brings job clarity to your employees.
- It identifies redundancy of certain tasks by employees.
- It drastically reduces mistakes, and having to hear "I forgot!" when certain tasks are not done as they should be.
- It's a great training/orientation tool for new employees.
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.