By Kate Rabe
Communications and processes are two terms many business owners cringe at when asked how they would rate these in their organization. What is it about these words that make people so uncomfortable? Is it the idea of having to take the time to write it all out? Some even feel since their business has made it this far why do they need to make any changes now?
Do these topics have just as much importance as departments in a business such as accounting, purchasing, and marketing? When looking to grow or expand a business, these are typically the first places people look to make changes. If one knows what is working and what did not work the previous year, does it not become easier to set goals to visualize the desired growth for the year to come? Without goals, things may begin to fall short.
What if communication and processes were looked at in the sense of attempting to achieve operational greatness? This means taking a proactive approach to make continual improvements within the company to have an advantage over competitors, but many business owners do not take the time to do this. However, by being proactive, it will not only assist with clear and effective communication from the top down and across all lines, but also help develop systems that enable employees to fix problems as soon as they arise.
Where to begin?
A good place to start is by looking at the business’s day-to-day operations. For instance, employees are hired to take some of the workload off of the business owner. With this being the case, one of the last things one wants to become is a micro-manager. An owner’s most efficient days are ones where he/she does not need to be present on every jobsite to frame a pool or on every phone call to schedule a service visit for a pump that is not running.
Owners want employees who are able to properly test a customer’s water sample and assess what needs to be done to balance the pool. Having a process in place for each of these scenarios is important to not only ensure the business runs smoothly, but also allows the owner to concentrate on the higher ticket items that require more time and energy.
Before one can begin to write the process, they have to be sure they have the right employees in the appropriate roles. Even more important is ensuring each employee understands his/her role and responsibility within the company.
In a perfect world, this author can assume every company has a job description written for its employees. An up-to-date organizational chart should be shared with everyone, too. In reality, this is not typically what this author sees. Yet, this is such an important tool when it comes to operations and communication in the business. Without it, what guidelines are being followed to make sure everyone is on the same page?
When writing job descriptions, be sure to include specific job duties (e.g. what is expected from a particular employee on a daily basis), but avoid anything too general. From a communication standpoint, a detailed list should be compiled of what that job performance looks like so an employee can perform well or, if they need to, focus more on a certain area. The job description should also include what tasks are expected to be completed as well as milestones to be reached and what the timeframe looks like.